Experimental Space – Lily Top

I recently had the opportunity to pattern test for Experimental Space. I have tested for Andrea a few times now and love how she always comes up with a special feature for her sewing patterns. This time it was ruffles😍

Lily Top : Sewing Pattern (PDF)

I made a total of 3 tops whilst testing, the first 2 were sewn up as toiles to test the pattern so that any adjustments could be made before the final draft of the pattern was sent out for the final make.

Depending on your size requirements the pattern only uses between 1 and 1.5 metres of fabric, I was able to sew all of my makes up out of 1 metre each so it is ideal for using up that left over fabric that you don’t know what to do with or alternatively it doesn’t break the bank to buy that expensive piece of fabric that you have wanted for ages.

My first toile was made from a remnant of viscose fabric that I had left over from a previous make, I had just under 1 metre left but was able to squeeze out the pattern pieces.  I Cut a size Cara on my bust and graded it to a Dee on the waist and hips, this was actually an error on my part and from the size guide I should of graded to an Eve so I had to sew a narrower seam and thus couldn’t use the French seam method for finishing the sides.

The pattern was altered slightly after this to improve the fit and I sewed my 2nd toile up using the correct sizing of Cara and then grading to Eve for the waist and hips, I sewed the 2nd make up in some cotton fabric I have had in my stash for ages, it doesn’t have the drape of the viscose so gives a more structured look but I still like it.

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Once I was happy with the fit and Andrea had made any adjustments to the pattern that had been brought to her attention then I was ready to sew up my final make.

I was lucky enough to win a voucher recently from Sister Mintaka and I have had my eye on some lovely Atelier Brunette viscose fabric.

Dune Smokey Viscose

At £18 per metre is isn’t cheap but I only needed 1 metre so the voucher was able to pay for that along with some matching bias binding.

It was quite scary cutting into such lovely fabric and knowing that there was no room for error so this was an occasion were I checked and re-checked before proceeding.

The first stage of sewing is the bust darts and the front neckline which is finished with bias binding, the ready made binding that I had was about double the width of what I needed so I cut it in half along the fold line.20200507_102540

I received these clips for Christmas and have used them so much since, I find them easier than working with pins and less likely to mark the fabric.

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Once the front neckline is finished it can be put to one side and work starts on the back.  The back is where you are going to be adding the ruffle so that piece needs to be folded in half (wrong sides together) and then the raw edge can be finished off with an overlocker or a zigzag stitch.  The ruffle needs to be gathers so 2 lines of gathering stitch are sewn and then it is time for the ‘ruffle shuffle’.  There is a handy guide with the instructions which tells you the length that the ruffle needs to be pulled in to.

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Once happy with the ruffle with everything evenly spaced then the ruffle is attached to the back along the top curved edge.

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Next up is joining the back and front at the shoulders (right sides together). One of the things I like about Andrea’s instructions are that they have good illustration to explain as well as words. The pictures below show what it will look like from both sides.

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The whole of the top edge is then sewn together with the back piece on the top for ease of sewing.  It’s important to press the seams and top stitch to make sure that the ruffles lay nicely along the sleeve front and the back of the neck.

There are 2 options on the back neck seam, it can be finished off with a zigzag or overlock stitch or you can add bias binding.  I went for the bias binding because I want this top to be pretty on the inside as well.

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Once the neckline is finished it’s pretty straight forward with some French seams for the side seams, I love the finish that this gives especially with a fine fabric like viscose.

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Cuffs then need to be added to finish off the sleeves and then it’s just a case of hemming.  I had just enough bias binding let for the hem so I took my time and finished it off with that.  I am really happy with all 3 new tops but this last one is definitely my favourite, the fabric is such nice quality and I love the colours. I have just sent for some Ramie Linen to make some trousers in and the colour match is really good.

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The Mortmain Dress

Mortmain 4When I was on a holiday in Greece last year I remember admiring a dress that the daughter of the owner of the apartments we stayed in was wearing one evening. It was a pink striped dress, quite a simple design but perfect for the warm evenings and the sunny climate.

Fast forward to the end of last year when I spotted the Mortmain Dress on sale for a bargain £2 and was reminded of that dress and holiday, all I needed then was the material. I spotted the perfect material a few weeks ago when browsing one of my favourite online fabric shops – Sewisfaction.

Pastel Candy Stripe Viscose Linen

The fabric is a Viscose/Linen blend and the stripes are the perfect colour tones for what I had in mind.

I am not generally in the habit of sewing up toiles, I very much steam ahead and hope for the best but I decided that if I wanted to re-create the perfect dress then I would need to take my time especially given the fact that the dress is fitted and it is a pattern company that I am not familiar with. I am so pleased that I actually decided to take the time and effort because the first toile didn’t fit! I went with my body measurements: 34/32/38 which put me at a size 10 for the bust and then grading to a size 16 on the waist. The toile was definitely too small across the bust area but the fit on the waist seemed ok.

For my second attempt I went up a size on the bust so cut a size 12 and again graded to the 16 for my waist. This time although the fit was much better I did have a gapping area under the armholes.

About 18 months ago I went to a bodice fitting class and have kept my bodice block for such occasions when I am struggling with fit issues. From this I was able to add a wedge to the underarm section, from the photo below you can see that very little needed to be added but it is surprising what a difference it makes.

bodice

 

The pattern uses facings around the neckline and arm holes but I wanted to give it that extra feeling of quality so decided to fully line the bodice. I had some deep red lining fabric tucked away in a cupboard and decided that would work well. Lining a bodice is not nearly as difficult as I thought and it is well worth the effort to make everything look nice on the inside. Basically it is a case of cutting out 2 bodices – one in your main fabric and one in your lining fabric, adding any darts to both bodices and joining the shoulder seams right sides together on both bodices. You then line the main bodice up with the lining bodice right sides together around the neck line and the armholes taking your time to make sure there is no puckering. I sewed with a 5/8″ seam allowance all around the neck and armholes and then trimmed the seam allowance to remove the bulk.

The magic happens when you pull the back bodice piece through the gap that is left on the shoulder seams, this needs to be done at both shoulder seams and then voila you have a lovely lined bodice with all the messy bits on the inside.

I can’t stress enough the importance of giving everything a good press, take your time over this because it really will make a difference. Once everything is nicely pressed then the side seams can be sewn up, again it is important to match up the seam on the underarm and then the seam can be stitched right along starting from the bottom edge of the outer bodice and finishing at the bottom of the lining.

The pattern gives instructions for a pleated skirt but I decided I would prefer a gathered skirt. I joined the front skirt panel to the back panels, firstly wrong sides together using a 3/8″ seam allowance and then trimmed the seam allowance and turned it right sides together before sewing a 2/8″ seam allowance to give lovely french seams, I really do want this dress to be pretty on the inside as well. I then ran 3 rows of gathering stitch along the top of the skirt panel and pulled them in to fit the bodice.

Another adjustment I made was to decrease the width of the waistband. I originally sewed it up as per the instructions but once I added the skirt I thought that the waistband was too wide. This was a fairly easy adjustment to make, I simply sewed another row of stitching 5/8″ from my original seam that joins the waistband to the skirt, I was very careful to make sure all the gathers were sitting neatly as I sewed.

The original pattern doesn’t include a waistband facing but I added one which I attached to the bodice lining sewing right sides together.

zip

 

The next stage was the back seam with the zip. The pattern uses an exposed zip but I didn’t have one to hand and also wasn’t too confident in doing this so I decided to go for an invisible zip which is something I have done before. Everyone probably has a preferred method for adding an invisible zip, for me the best method was discovered last year when I pattern tested the Rosalee Dress for Experimental Space:

https://jennylovestosew.wordpress.com/2019/07/17/testing-rosalee/

Rosalee Dress : Sewing Pattern (PDF)

I dug out the instructions for the Rosalee and followed those. I did take the dress in a fair amount on the back seam and used a 1.2″ seam allowance instead of the 5/8″. Once the zip was in I had to repeat the process to join the lining along the back zip area, this was a little tricky because the lining needs to be right sides together against the main fabric and it can’t be laid completely flat but a little time and patience and I managed it. Once this was done I overlocked the back seams in order to reduce the depth and to neaten them and then pressed the seams open.

The final stages were joining the waistband facing to the waistband at the bottom edge, to do this I turned to some hand stitching and then it was onto the hem, I had originally increased the length of the skirt panels by 2″ when I first cut them out and I didn’t want to lose too much length so just turned up by 1 cm and then by 1″ and again hand sewed.

I am really thrilled with how this turned out and also had enough fabric to sew myself a matching head band/belt. I have really enjoyed a bit of slow sewing. This dress feels special and I will look forward to many sunny days of wearing it and imagining holidays by the sea.

Mortmain 3

Dhurata Davies Maxine Dress

Hi all, hope everyone is staying safe and well during these crazy times. We are currently in lockdown here in the UK, only allowed out for essential journeys such as grocery shopping and collecting medicines and currently for 1 period of exercise a day.

All this extra time at home has given me plenty of time for sewing, I am currently awaiting some fabric so that I can get making some scrubs for our wonderful NHS but in the meantime I have just sewn myself a new dress. I love discovering new pattern companies and I recently came across a new to me company called Dhurata Davies, I started following them over on Instagram and when they put a 30% discount code up for their paper patterns (still running at time of writing) I couldn’t resist. I purchased 2 of their patterns – The Maxine Dress which is the one I will be showing you today and the Jasmine Dress and Tee which I hope to make in the very near future.

https://dhuratadavies.com/

The Maxine dress is suitable for both knit and woven fabric and I have had this lovely ponte weight knit fabric in my stash for nearly 12 months. I purchased it from Sewisfaction when they held a pop up shop in Bath last May.

Fabric

The Maxine Dress is a fairly straight forward sew if you follow the very clear instructions, I initially didn’t do this and steamed ahead like I knew what I was doing. The front is made up of panels that meet in the middle just under the bust line. The instructions tell you to join the right side panel to the top section and the left side panel to the bottom section and then it is fairly straight forward joining these two pieces together. I foolishly didn’t read these instructions and tried attaching the side panels to the top on both sides at which stage I realised it was going to be pretty difficult to get a neat centre point. Once I realised my mistake I had the lovely task of unpicking the entire front and starting over, I could of probably joined it all together without the unpicking but I don’t think it would of turned out nearly as neatly. So lesson learnt – READ THE INSTRUCTIONS – the pattern designer really does know best when it comes to making up their designs..

I went with my body measurements when cutting out but found it to be way too big once I had sewn up the side seams, I think that maybe because I used knit fabric I should of sized down. I overcame this problem my taking in the side seams by 1 inch. Once this was done I still found it a little big over the back area so I added some darts and then cut down the centre (deep breath) and rejoined with a 5/8″ seam allowance. I am not in the habit of sewing toiles but maybe this is something I should consider in the future.

The only other alteration I made was to take it up my a couple of inches – I am only 5ft 2″ so this is a regular alteration for me.

Anyway I am very happy with the end result and I love the fact that it has deep pockets on the front. Also as an added bonus I entered my dress in an Instragram competition being run by Sister Mintaka – #FeelingSewMuchBetter and was one of the lucky winners of a £25 gift voucher.

https://sistermintaka.com/

Maven Somerset – All about the sleeves

When I first saw the new Maven Somerset T-Shirt pattern I was immediately drawn to the fantastic sleeves. The t-shirt comes in four versions, style A and B are fairly basic boat neck patterns which can be made up with either 3/4 or full length sleeves but the bishops sleeves on versions C and D add that little bit of interest which makes this a really stylish top.

The Somerset T-shirt | SEWING PATTERN

This is a fairly quick sew even with the fancy sleeves and there are just 3 pieces for the basic top and 4 if you want the bishop sleeves, it is also economical on fabric which is always a good thing. I used just 1.5 metres of cotton jersey and have enough left over to make a headband or 2 (something which as been on my list of makes for a while now).

My body measurements are 34/32/38 and I cut a size 12 on the bust and graded to a 14 on the waist and found this a good fit. The neck line is just sewn under to make the facing so you stitch the seams before joining the front and back, I used a twin needle for this and then when I sewed up the shoulder seams I needed to match the stitching for the front ans back neckline.

The bishops sleeves use shirring elastic to make the gathers, this was a new technique for me so I did a couple of practice runs on some spare fabric, the first attempt wasn’t too successful but this was because I hadn’t wound the bobbin tightly enough – the elastic needs to be stretched slightly (not too much) on the bobbin. I rewound the bobbin tried again and then played about with the stitch length until I was happy, once I had stitched the 2 rows of elastic into place I ram some steam over the stitch lines (without pressing), this shrinks the elastic to and the gathers.

The sleeves are attached to the bodice on the flat and then it was just a case of sewing the seam all the way along from the end of the sleeve to the hem.

The cuff took some patience to attach because there is a lot of gathering but I took my time and voila – lovely bishops sleeves.

I have made 2 of these already with some amazing fabric from Apple and Roses:

https://applesandrosesfabrics.co.uk/

This is no doubt going to be a top that I will be returning to again and again, it is a simple make, I love the neckline and it is definitely all about the sleeves!

First Make of 2020 – Closet Case Sienna

With the New Year comes new sewing plans and a little bit of organisation of my patterns and fabric. I don’t know if anyone else is similar but at the start of the New year I always like to have a bit of a clear out and tidy up.

I seem to of acquired rather a lot of fabric over the last 12 months, I have been lucky enough to have a few short breaks both in the UK and further afield and with every new place I visit I find myself checking out fabric shops in the local vicinity where I usually end up buying at least one piece on fabric (I’m on holiday so its allowed right?) and then with the sales over Christmas and New Year I have added even more to my stash.

My resolution for 2020 is to buy less fabric (I would be lying if I said I wasn’t going to buy any, I am bound to get tempted at some stage) and sew more from my stash. I am very easily tempted by all the new fabrics always popping up on Instagram and in the bricks and mortar shops that I visit and often I will buy a fabric without a clear idea of what I plan to use it for (this is something else I want to try and change this year). So having sorted through my rather large pile of fabric I have started to make some plans to sew with what I already have.

First up is the Closet Case Sienna Jacket, I was particularly drawn to the short version of this when it first came out, I really like the button details on the back opening but I have decided to sew the plain sleeves rather than the pocket sleeve which is shown on the short version on the front of the pattern envelope. The fabric I am using is a fairly heavy weight denim that I pick up sometime at the beginning of last year when I visited the Birmingham Rag Market with some sewing friends, I can’t remember exactly how much it cost at the time but it would of been something like £2 or £3 and the quality seems pretty good.

I am a big fan of the Closet Case patterns which always have very well written instructions and quite often a Sew Along over on their blog.

My measurements are as follows: 34/32/38 which put me at size 6 Bust, 14 Waist and 10 Hips according to the size chart but looking at the finished garment measurements there is plenty of ease on the waist and I rarely wear jackets fastened so I decided to cut a Size 8 on the bust and grade up to 10 on both the waist and the hips. I went pretty bold on the top stitching and used some white – no hiding any mistakes against the blue background but I took my time and think it looks pretty neat.

Once all the pockets were in place the next stage it to sew up the top part of the back seam and then do the back flap. There are various options for finishing off the seams and I have opted to use some pretty bias binding that I picked up which is keeping with the colour scheme – navy with white hearts. I was a little concerned that I had cut the back vent facing too short but I double checked the pattern piece and it appears to be correct so I plodded on and turned the corners up. I think I must of misunderstood the instructions because once I had sewn the side seams and tried it on for fit I realised that if I turned the hem up that much all the way round then the front pockets would be right at the bottom of the jacket.

I puzzled over this for a while and tried to figure out the best way to get around this without having to take the whole thing apart. In the end I unpicked the bottom sections and managed to get a bit of extra length. I think originally I had turned the facing edge up and then turned the hem up so this time I let the facing lye flat and turned the hem over it (hope that makes sense) I did have to taper the edge slightly on the right side but this will sit underneath so shouldn’t be visible.

For the top stitching along the back seam I went with a navy to blend in with the fabric.

Once the side seams were sewn up it was onto the collar and lapels facings. The first stage is sewing these together at the shoulders – the instructions also give you a reminder at this stage about adding a hanging loop (I usually forget this sort of thing so found it really useful). Once this is done you need to attach the top collar facing to the neckline. One of my Christmas presents was some wonder clips and I found these really useful on this project, the fabric is fairly thick so pinning can be tricky, these proved to be a fabulous alternative and kept everything in place nicely. I again used bias binding to finish off the bottom edge, I want my jacket to be pretty on the inside too.

Once the collar and lapel are finished you need to attach the under collar to the jacket.

Then comes the fun part! attaching the top collar and facing to the jacket.

I really took my time over this and used a large number of clips to make sure that everything was lined up accurately. Once I was happy with the positioning then it was back to the machine to sew it all together, again the trick here is to go slow. Once everything is sewn up then the seams need to be trimmed and pressed well, it is also important to cut the corners close to the stitch line so that you get a nice corner. One of the key stages of getting a nice finish is pressing. I pressed the edges at every stage when I was attaching the facing to the jacket to make sure I got a crisp finish.

The sleeves are in two parts, there is another version which involves pockets but I preferred the idea of keeping them plain. the sleeves went in pretty easily and again I turned to some bias binding (just a plain grey this time) to give a neat finish.

I have a dread of doing button holes on my sewing machine, a couple of times i have had problems and the thread has jammed but all went smoothly this time.

The instructions suggest shank style buttons in order to give a little room for the thickness of the fabric. I didn’t have any in my collection that were suitable but I did have some regular buttons in a tin that my mother-in-law gave me some time ago. I discovered a nifty trick for making your own shanks. Basically you just need to sew a small bead behind the button to form the shank. I used to do a lot of jewellery making so still have a large selection of beads. I have a tin of 2mm spacer beads with decent size holes which were perfect for the job. Once the bead is sewn into place then just hold the button on top and sew it into place going back through the bead hole a few times as well as going through to the reverse side of the jacket.

So here it is my first make of 2020 and I am so pleased with how it turned out. Sometimes it is just nice to take a little bit of extra time and give a little bit more attention to the finishing. I am proud to show off the inside as well as the outside.

Jarrah Sweater

The Jarrah Sweater is one of those patterns that as been around for a while and although I was aware of it it wasn’t really on my radar until I saw a version sewn up at my weekly sewing group. The teacher had sewn a couple of sample versions up in preparation for a class that she was planning and instantly I knew it was a pattern I wanted to sew.

I got back home and immediately ordered the pattern. The pattern is pretty economical on fabric, I had some ponte weight floral jersey fabric that I had picked up from the swap table at #SewBrum back in October and decided to use that for my trial version. I only had about 1 metre so didn’t bother with cuffs and instead just cut the sleeves out to the longest length I could get from the fabric – these turned out to be plenty long enough.

I went with View C for my first make, because the waist tie is what first drwe me to the pattern. I used the finished measurements to guide my sizing, I usually work on body measurements but this is a loose fit top so I cut a straight size 8 (for my body measurements I would usually grade up to a 12 on the waist), this size worked out perfectly and the fabric worked really well.

The pattern is a very easy sew, I have made a number of jersey tops over the last couple of years so pretty much skipped through the instructions although I did pay attention for the tie which is a detail that I haven’t sewn before. I found the instructions very clear for this stage.

I was so impressed with the pattern that I went straight on to make another, this time I used a striped French Terry from Lamazi Fabrics, at the time of writing the fabric is still available and can be found here:

Groovy Stripes Green / Chocolate Cotton French Terry

The fabric is lovely quality and washes well, it is also very soft to the touch. This time I used some contrasting cuffing fabric to finish off the sleeves which is a perfect match to the brown stripes.

With Christmas fast approaching I decided I just had time to squeeze one more in before packing my machine away. I sew at the kitchen table but will be cooking for 10 this year so needed to clear my sewing machine and all the paraphernalia that goes with it away. I wanted something with a little bit of sparkle and picked up some sweatshirting fabric which has cute glittery foxes on it from a local fabric shop.

This time a went for View B but lengthened the body by 1 inch and shortened the sleeves by 2 inches.

This is definitely one of those patterns that I will be returning to time and time again. I actually have another one planned with some fabric that I have had in my stash since the summer, next time I am planning on lengthening the pattern into a dress but that will have to wait until the New Year when Christmas festivities are over and I can get my sewing table back.

Workshop Culottes and Burnside Bib Pattern Mash

I recently discovered a new to me pattern company called Workshop, if you would like to take a look at some of their patterns the link can be found below:

PATTERNS

I really liked the look of the Emily Culottes/Pinafore pattern and sent off for it knowing that I already had some suitable fabric in my stash. My first make turned out well and I have vlogged about it here:

At a recent sewing event called #SewBrum in the UK I picked up some more fabric with another pair in mind but this time I wanted to combine them with the Sew House 7 Burnside Bibs.

The trousers on the Workshop pinafore were pretty much spot on with regard to fitting so I really wanted to use these to achieve a more fitted trouser but I wanted the shape and ties of the Burnside Bib pattern. I love the previous Burnsides I made during the summer and have worn them loads but they do have more of a gathered fit around the bottom area which was fine for the light weight chambray that I used but I was worried about too much gathering with a heavier weight fabric hence my reason for the pattern mash.

To make my latest pair I cut out the pattern pieces for the front and back trouser sections using the Workshop pattern. I used the front pocket piece from the Burnside Bibs because I love how deep they are – pockets are a thing that I am definitely missing on the previous Emily culottes, I then used the bib, waist band and back facing from the Burnside pattern and used the Sew House 7 instructions (which are excellent) to put it all together.

The pieces for the bib section were wider than the trousers so I cut away the side sections because this amount is excess and would normally accommodate the gathers in the standard version.

I haven’t really done much pattern mashing before and one thing I didn’t take into consideration was that on the Burnside Bibs the back trouser piece is cut to sit on the waist higher than the front piece which is to accommodate the front waist band so brings the front up level with the back. I didn’t realise this until it came to attaching the waistband and bib and sewing up the side seams and realised that the front and back were at different heights. I got around this by cutting a second back facing piece and in essence using it as a back waistband. This does mean that the waistband sits a little higher than on the regular Burnside Bibs but I think it still looks OK.

If I am completely honest they are also a little tighter than the first pair I made, this is in part due to the different type of fabric (I used corduroy last time which had a little stretch to it) and also due to them sitting higher on my waist. They are still wearable though and I managed a meal out for my sister’s birthday the other evening without them being uncomfortably tight. I also managed a couple of comical photos in the garden, really not sure what was going on when my husband snapped these.

I am glad that I decided to experiment with the 2 patterns though and will be making more, I am really liking the bib look at the moment and am currently looking for a pinafore with a skirt rather than trouser attachment for my next make.