Autumn Indigo Dress

With the weather just beginning to turn here in the UK I am thinking about my Autumn wardrobe so decided to make another Indigo dress by Tilly and the Buttons. I bought this pattern when it was first released a couple of years ago and have made a couple before which you can read about here:

https://wordpress.com/post/jennylovestosew.wordpress.com/769

This time around I decided to make a few alterations. First up I decided to alter the sleeves. The previous ones I made both had the flounce sleeves which look really nice but in reality I do find them a little irritating; they can somewhat get in the way when you are eating etc – lets face it no-one wants their sleeves dragging in their food when out for a meal! I actually based the sleeves I have used for this version on Friday Pattern Company Davenport dress sleeves and used those as a template:

https://wordpress.com/post/jennylovestosew.wordpress.com/1810

These sleeves are elasticated around the wrist and are a really simple adjustment – I traced the armsyce of the Indigo and then referred to the Davenport dress pattern for the rest of the sleeve. It doesn’t come out quite as wide as the Davenport but they have worked well.

I also decided to add a waist tie, I did this on one of my previous Indigo dresses and it just allows me to pull the waistline in a little when desired. On my previous Indigo I attached the ties to the bodice but I actually forgot to do that this time around and had French seamed the bodice before thinking about it so I added them to the skirt panels instead and placed them just below the seam allowance.

Finally I decided to add an extra tier – buffet style dresses seem to be all the trend at the moment (although I had no idea that this is what they are called until the latest series of The Great British Sewing Bee). I am trying to be less wasteful with fabric so because I had a decent amount left after cutting the original pieces I simply cut what was left in half using the full width of fabric and then joined them together for the front and back pieces, this gave me a length of about 9 inches so take away the seam allowance and the hem (which I finished before adding to the dress) and that gives an extra length of about 7 inches. This was a very unscientific method of adding extra length but I think it worked out well.

Pattern Testing and other Makes

I’ve had a busy month and really don’t know where the time has gone, I can’t believe it’s September already!

So I have surprised myself with how much I have made in the last few weeks but having a pattern test to do gave me some focus on my sewing and at the time of starting that I already had a couple of items in the pipeline.

The pattern test was for Jayne at The Dressmakers Closet, I had previously tested her 1st pattern the Poppy Pinafore which you can find a link to below so I was excited to get involved in this test having loved her previous pattern.

https://wordpress.com/post/jennylovestosew.wordpress.com/1729

The Martha Top is a fairly straight forward sew and could definitely be taken on by a confident beginner, it is a loose fitting short sleeved top with binding around the neckline and a lovely ruffle hem which makes it stand out from the crowd. Because of it’s loose fit I was able to go with my bust measurement size of small without having to grade out for my waist which I normally have to do. I actually made 2 of these tops and have been wearing them loads over the last few weeks. My 1st version was made up in a viscose dobby fabric from Felicity Fabrics and for the 2nd one I used some lovely floral Lady McElroy cotton which I picked up from the Sherwood Fabric stand at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. I love the quality of Lady McElroy fabric and this colourful print really puts a smile on my face when I wear it.

The only alteration I made when sewing the top up was to alter the lengths of the ruffles. Because of the curved hem the back bodice hemline is longer than the front bodice but the front and back ruffle pieces are the same length as each other – this would have meant that the side seams of the ruffles didn’t line up with the side seams of the bodice, I am a little fussy about this sort of thing so did a simple calculation to work out the length of each ruffle piece so that they would line up with the side seams.

In between sewing my 2 Martha tops I also made the Pattern Fantastique Vali Dress – see my previous post on the Vali Top for all the details.

https://wordpress.com/post/jennylovestosew.wordpress.com/1904

This is going into my top makes list for this year because I absolutely love it and am enjoying reliving the 70s style and with the arrival of the new Abba songs I think this fashion may stay around for a while.

My final make it my first quilt – I will take my hat off to all the quilt makers out there at this stage because I found this way more difficult than making clothes. I started this quilt back at the beginning of April when I decided to send for the Cocowawa Novice Stripe Quilt Pattern, we were having some renovations done at the time and had ordered a couple of new sofas so I thought a quilt over each of them would look good and also stop our cat from covering them in fur. Everything went pretty smoothly until I started sewing the layers together. I haven’t got any photos to show how bad it looked but after sewing several rows (I really should have stopped long before I did) the quilt looked dreadful and the stripes were no longer parallel.

After throwing it in a corner for a couple of months and trying to forget about it I decided to come back to it – I really don’t like leaving things unfinished. The first job was to unpick all the rows of stitches that I had done and let me tell you this took hours, longer than it took to put together.

I had watched a video by Lauren at Guthrie and Ghani about making a cheats quilt and in it she used some spray on glue.

I sent for some of the glue and I also decided to invest in some better quality wadding, the previous wadding I had used wasn’t very good quality so I bought some cotton wadding which although more expensive is also very wide so I should be able to get another quilt out of it (yes I am thinking of making another one!).

Anyway although not perfect it turned out much better this time around and I think it looks pretty good on the sofa, also the cat likes it.

Vali Blouse – All About The Sleeves

I recently discovered a new to me pattern company whilst scrolling Instagram (something I probably spend too much time doing). The company is Pattern Fantastique and when I saw the Vali Dress and Blouse it shot straight to the top of my make list.

https://www.patternfantastique.com/

I sent for the PDF pattern which is something I have started doing much more of recently, although there is definitely something aesthetically pleasing to me about owning the printed patterns sometimes the cost just can’t be justified and being able to download your pattern immediately certainly has it’s advantages.

I usually trace my patterns off but because it was a PDF I decided to skip this stage and just cut around the pattern for my size with the exception of the front/back bodice piece which I did trace because I wanted to keep it for the dress and the cutting lines are slightly different. For anyone cutting a size 12 I did notice that the neckline appears to be marked with the size 8 line, I have messaged the company to let them know so hopefully this is something that can be corrected for future prints.

The pattern comes in bust sizes 31 7/8″ to 51 9/16″. I usually grade between sizes but the instructions stated that the bust size was the important measurement to take into consideration because the rest of the dress/top is loose fitting. My bust measurement put me at the size 10 but because the seam allowance is only 1cm I decided to go up to the size 12 because I knew that there would be little room for adjustment within the seams. When I saw the pieces set out I thought the bodice would be too small but part of the bodice is taken up by the sleeves so the fit turned out to be good although going up a size was the right call.

The fabric was from another newly discovered company – Amothread sell dead stock fabric and I have been tempted by a few of their fabrics lately but I am really trying to work through my stash of fabric at the moment so am resisting buying unless I have a definite plan (my shelves really don’t have any more room for storage). Anyway I sent for this shirting fabric from them and it was a bargain at just £3.50 per metre. The stripes on the fabric run across from grain to grain so I cut the bodice out that way but then turned the fabric so that the main body and arms had the stripes running down.

https://amothreads.com/

So let’s get onto the sewing, the pattern is marked as being for intermediate sewists which I would say is about right. I didn’t find the instructions particularly difficult to follow but there are quite a lot of steps. For me personally my biggest gripe about the pattern is the seam allowance. Most of the seams are 1cm seams which is fine but in some places like around the neck line the seam allowance is 1/4″ with stay stitching being done at 3/16″, now I am a 50+ hobby sewist who needs glasses and add to this the fray ability of some fabrics and it just gets tricky but perhaps this is just me being picky.

Now I will confess I got myself into a bit of a muddle when sewing this. The sleeves are huge and I somehow mistakenly mixed one of the sleeves up with the back bodice piece – I managed to attach the front bodice to the back yoke and the sleeve to the front yoke! Perhaps I should have labelled my pieces better and not strewn them all over my bed whilst sewing at my dressing table, so that was a day of sewing that all needed unpicking. In other news we have just finished getting our extension decorated and floored so I finally (after 6 months) have my big table back for sewing.

Overall the instructions are pretty good and there are a couple of handy tips in there such as marking the front and back of the sleeves before gathering. I popped a safety pin in to mark the back of the sleeves. There is a fair bit of gathering to do on the sleeves and the bodice pieces but I like the fact that there is a handy chart which tells you what length each piece should be gathered to. I always like to pop a clip onto the centre on my bodice pieces so that I can gather each side equally and sometimes the little snip marks that you make in the fabric can get lost.

I made the standard neckline, there is another option for a drop neck but I thought this might be a little low for my liking. There are a couple of ties that are sewn into the front opening between the yoke and the facing. The instructions tell you to sew the front facing to the front yoke and then unpick some stitches and pop the ties in and re-sew. I really didn’t see the point in this so I just tacked the ties into place and then sewed the facing to the yoke.

It did take me a little time and a couple of reads of the instructions to get my head around joining the yoke to the bodice pieces and sleeves but with a little time and care it all came together, it does state that accuracy is important at this stage and I found that everything lined up nicely.

The sleeves are very big and I like the puffiness of them once the elastic is added to the sleeve hem, it’s a very 70s look which the pattern is going for and has definitely achieved. I did have to cut the elastic down shorter than the instructions suggest. The instructions use your upper arm measurement plus 1″ so I measured the widest part of my arm but the sleeves actually fall below this so I just trimmed the elastic down till I was happy with the fit.

Overall I am pleased with how this turned out and I fancy making a dress version (which has pockets) in some cool linen for the summer so I better get cracking because the summer doesn’t last long here in the UK.

Summer Skye

Anyone who has been following me for a while will know what a fan I am of Tilly and The Buttons and when her latest pattern dropped I didn’t hesitate in buying it and it didn’t disappoint.

The Skye dress is a simple sundress with an empire waist bodice and lovely deep pockets. It can be sewn as a mini, knee length or maxi dress or any length you fancy really.

I purchased my fabric on a recent break in Wales where I discovered a lovely little fabric shop in Barry town, the shop is well worth checking out it you are over that way (they don’t appear to sell online unfortunately), as well as fabric and haberdashery the owner also has some of her artwork for sale in the store which is well worth a look.

https://www.sewlovelypenarth.com/fabrics

My body measurements are 35/32/39 which means that usually for Tilly’s patterns I cut a size 4 on my bust and grade to a size 5 on the waist but the pattern is fairly generous around the waist and from the finished garment measurements I decided that I would be able to cut a straight size 4

This really was a quick sew, there are only 5 pattern pieces – 6 if you add the ties on the shoulder straps. You have front and back bodice pieces, the skirt pattern which is actually only 1 piece with a slightly different cutting line across the waistband for the front and back, then you have the bias strips (unless you decide to buy pre-made), pockets and the optional ties for the shoulder straps.

I had purchased 2.5 metres of fabric which was about 130cm wide and cut the maxi length less about 4 inches because I am only 5ft 2″ the pattern states 2.8 metres at 140cm wide for the maxi length. I had a directional print on my fabric but without this I could of used even less than the 2.5 metres.

The construction was really quick, probably the most time consuming part was the bias binding which goes around the neckline and the armholes but using cotton it was really easy to work with. I actually finished this make in just a few hours from tracing the pattern off to hemming and next time it will be even quicker now the pattern is all cut out and ready to go. The instructions also show a really simple guide for an optional bra strap stay, I didn’t bother with this because found the positioning of my bra under the strap very good anyway and also if you sew the faux tie straps it is very easy to just tie those around your bra along with the straps to keep everything in place.

I love my fabric choice, I have been using a lot more plain fabrics lately or more subtle prints but I just couldn’t resist this print when I saw it and I am really glad I went for it because I think it suits the pattern well.

I will definitely be sewing this us again and although it is classed as a sundress I think it will be easy to lengthen the period of wear with layering, I live in the UK so know all about changeable weather! It looks great with a jacket and I have also seen a few people styling with a tee-shirt underneath and depending on fabric choice it should be fairly easy to tweak it for an autumn/winter version.

Total £39.95

Cotton Fabric £9 per metre x 2.5 £22.50 Gutermann Thread No.320 x 1 £ 1.95 Pattern (1st use) £15.50

Wildergown Blouse Sewalong

I bought the Wildergown pattern around Christmas time and it as been patiently waiting for me to get round to sewing it. I finally got the push I needed when I spotted a sewalong on Instagram.

There was a call out over on @sewover50 from a fellow sewist for people to join her in sewing either the Sagebrush top or the Wildergown blouse.

Now I love connecting with other people who sew. When I first took up sewing about 4 years ago I didn’t know anyone else who shared my interest but over the last few years I have connected with a few like minded people on Instagram and have also made a few real life connections by going to events such as #SewBrum

Melanie – the lady who organised the event – set up a group chat and we had a lovely time chatting about fabric choice and which top we were going to make as well as chat which was nothing to do with sewing at all. Anyway having previously sewn a Sagebrush top I decided now would be a good time to give the Wildergown a go.

https://wordpress.com/post/jennylovestosew.wordpress.com/1257

I had actually purchased some fabric when I bought the pattern with the intention of making a dress but I spotted some lovely looking georgette fabric in my local sewing shop and decided to use that to make a blouse which would give me some idea of fit ahead of using my dress fabric.

My measurements fell between sizes which is a usual thing for me. I measured small bust, large waist and medium hips. I chatted to a lady I know on Instagram who had made the top previously and decided to go with my bust measurement and then just grade to the medium. I was also advised that the sleeves come up short so added about 3″ to them (I forgot to make a note of how much exactly I added so that is a bit of a guess!).

This is actually a very simply put together pattern, the pieces consist of front, back, sleeves and tie. I started off with the intention of sewing French seams because I do like a nice finish on the inside but boy did this fabric fray! I don’t think I have ever used a fabric that frayed quite to much before, in hindsight maybe I should of overlocked all the edges at the start but the fabric is fairly sheer and I didn’t want to add any bulk.

The seam along the front is folded over twice to hide all the raw edges and I did manage this with a useful gadget – it’s called a Thang Sewing Tool, I purchased mine off Amazon in a set of 5 but just type the name into your search engine and they are widely available.

The blouse is a Raglan sleeve design so no tricky gathering and I did manage to French seam the front and back to the sleeves but my the time I got to the side seams the fabric was looking rather the worst for wear. I sewed the first row of stitching for the side seams (wrong sides together) at 2/8″, the full seam allowance is 5/8″ and then tried the top on and realised if I took any more seam in then it would be a little on the tight side.

I think the size a cut was accurate for my fit but the fabric had frayed so much that the seam allowance was now off. I very carefully unpicked the side seams and then abandoned all hope of doing French seams and turned to my trusty overlocker. By this time the loose seams were looking pretty sorry for themselves so I just clipped the seams together (I didn’t dare to put pins through it) and then overlocked from the sleeve hem all the way down to the bottom of the bodice just using the edge of the overlocker plate as a guide so I only cut off the bare minimum seam allowance.

I’ve got to say I was relieved to get the side seams sewn up and all that fraying fabric out of the way. At this stage I tried is on again and really wasn’t sure about how I felt, there was so much fabric around the neck and I couldn’t visualise how the tie would gather it all in but I had come this far so preserved.

The instructions tell you to sew up the tie right sides together before turning and leave the ends open to finished at a later stage. I actually decided to sew it up and leave a gap along that long seam in the middle of the tie because this part will sit inside the neck channel and will remain unseen, this way I found I could get a much neater finish on the ends.

The neckline channel is created by turning a small hem and then turning again at 2″ the neckline is then topstitched along the bottom edge and then again at 1″ the tie is then fed through the bottom channel and can be evenly gathered before tying at the front neck opening. Once the necktie is in it all comes together and I actually really like how it looks.

There are a couple of changes I will make next time. I am only 5ft 2″ but did find the top a little short for my liking, the instructions tell you to turn the hem up by 1/2″ and the 1/2″ again, I double turned it 3/8″ and would prefer it to be a little longer. Also despite adding some length to the sleeves I still think they could do with being a little longer. I also decided to add some elastic to the sleeves to bring the in around my wrist, I overlocked the edge of the sleeves and just did a single turn of 5/8″ and added some narrow elastic that I had.

Total £28.70

Floral Georgette £3.50 per metre x 2.5 £ 8.75 Gutermann Thread £ 1.95 Pattern £ 18.00

Yanta Overalls Sewing Society Kit

I finally made the Yanta Overalls. These have been on my radar for ages and being a big fan on dungarees I’m not quite sure why it took me so long to finally get round to sewing them..

I get monthly emails from Guthrie and Ghani in Birmingham advertising their Sewing Society kits and when the Yanta Overalls came up in May that was the prompt I needed to finally sew them.

https://guthrie-ghani.co.uk/shop/category/the-g-g-sewing-society-kits

This is the first time I have sent for one of the Sewing Society kits and it came with everything you need to sew your garment. The Yanta’s came in a choice of 3 colours – Navy, Pacific Blue and Teal – I chose the Pacific Blue which is a lovely mid blue colour on good quality linen.

Included in the kit was 2.6m of linen (they also did a kit for larger sizes that had 3.3m fabric), iron on interfacing, 2 coordinating buttons, 2 reels of gutherman thread, an invisible zip, Prym sewing machine needles, a woven label and of course the pattern printed out on good quality paper. The instructions come through in an email as a pdf and can be downloaded and printed at home and you also get access to a hints and tips video.

The only downside to the kits is that as far as I can tell if you already own the pattern there isn’t an option of buying the kit without the pattern. Other than that it is very well put together and works out cheaper than buying all the elements separately.

The only other pattern I have sewn by Helen’s Closet is the Blackwood Cardigan but I remember the instructions being very well put together and likewise these instructions were very easy to follow. Sizewise my measurements put me at a size 8 bust, 14 waist and 10 hips so because I wasn’t making a muslin (something I rarely do and have mostly got away with😅) I cut the 8 for my bust and graded to the 14 for both waist and hips, it should also be noted that there is a generous 5/8″ seam allowance which allows for some adjustments.

First up in the instructions is making the pockets and there are a lot of them, 5 in all – 2 back and 2 front on the trouser section and then the breast pocket. I particularly liked the design of the breast pocket which once attached is divided into 2 with some stitching along the centre. I sewed the breast and front pockets on but just basted the back pockets into place to that I could check the positioning once I tried then on.

Probably the hardest part of the construction is attaching the straps to the back, there is quite a bulk of fabric to get through the machine so this took some time making sure everything was lined up.

I basted the side seams together to check the fit and they were pretty oversized – picture some clown trousers and this is pretty much what they look like around the hips. I took 2/8″ off the side seams going all the way down to the trouser hem and then tried them on again.

There was still plenty of spare room around the waist so I ended up taking another 1″ off the top of the side seams and ran this 6″ down whilst slowly grading back out to my original seam. Once I had done this I was really happy with the fit.

I actually decided to omit the zip because I can just get them over my hips without it and don’t see the point of adding one just for the sake of it. As nice as the buttons were that came with the kit (they won’t go to waste and will be used for another project) I decided to use some alternative buttons from my stash. I picked these buttons up at a charity shop a couple of years ago and think they work well.

The final touch was my brooch, there is a lady over on Instagram called Corrie @ceramic67 who makes some lovely jewellery and this is one of her latest additions, you can check her our here:

https://corriesfancygoods.bigcartel.com/products

Alterations

If you are anything like me you will have me made items in your wardrobe that don’t get worn. I decided it was time to go through my makes and have a good sort out. I have a wardrobe where I keep my current clothing along with a blanket box were I keep the out of season items.

With the weather warming up here in the UK now seemed like a good time to swap things over and at the same time I looked at the things that I haven’t really worn and decided whether or not I wanted to keep them. I few things were put to the charity pile and I was left with 3 items that I haven’t really worn but did want to try and fit into my wardrobe and these are the items I will talk about now.

First up is the Simplicity K8610 – I post my makes on Instagram and when I posted this light weight jacket it had loads of compliments and to date it is still my most liked post but I just haven’t worn it. I love the fabric it is a really colourful fun print by Lady McElroy but I think my problem with it has always been the sleeves. The sleeves are really wide and whenever I have tried wearing it I realize that they just irritate me and get in the way, I know this is the style that is intended but for me it just didn’t work.

To make this alteration I sewed a channel around the sleeve cuffs and inserted some elastic. There was nothing scientific about my method I simply used some elastic that I had in my stash that was about 1cm wide so I made sure the channel was wider than this. For the length I wrapped the elastic around my wrist added some extra length for seam allowance and cut it to this length. This was a really simple alteration and one I should have done ages ago, this jacket has sat in my wardrobe unloved for nearly 2 years! Anyway by ruching the sleeves in with some elastic it feels so much better to wear so hopefully it will be hidden away no more.

Alteration number 2 was my Closet Core Jenny trousers. I made these last year and you can read the post here:

https://wordpress.com/post/jennylovestosew.wordpress.com/1016

These trousers were just too long so again they have been sitting in my wardrobe unworn. Initially I decided to chop off about 4 inches which put the hem just above my ankles and that made them feel so much more wearable. I was in fact wearing them in the garden when I caught my leg on a nail – we are currently in the midst of home improvements and there is a lot of junk in the garden waiting to go in the skip. There was an upturned bath with a nail sticking out which not only scratched my leg but also ripped the trousers. This meant taking another couple of inches off the hem to remove the tear so they are now more culottes length but I am definitely wearing them more in fact they are becoming my go to trousers instead of my jeans now the weather is improving.

Last up was the Mortmain dress, I really wanted to love this dress when I made it but there just felt something off about it whenever I put it on so I haven’t really worn it. Trying it on recently to try and figure out why I wasn’t happy with it I decided that it was something to do with the waistband. I can’t quite put my finger on it, I have seen several samples of this dress online which look great. I think maybe having the stripes split up with the seams was the issue.

This was a more time consuming alteration, I had to remove the concealed zip first before I could get started and then I had I lot of unpicking to do to separate the waistband from the skirt. Firstly I tried narrowing the waistband but I still wasn’t entirely happy and knew I still wouldn’t wear it. I then decided to remove the waistband all together. More unpicking and I also removed all the gathering from the skirt panels, ironed it all out and started again with the gathering, then it was a case of attaching the skirt to the bodice and then reinserting the concealed zip. I feel much better about how it looks now, I had left the dress fairly long anyway so it is still a good length sitting just below my knees. The waist sits a little higher than my natural waistline but this isn’t really an issue for me and if the rain stops and the sun ever decides to shine (the joy of living in the UK) I will definitely be reaching for this dress now rather than consigning it to the bottom of the pile.

Davenport Dress

Does anyone else have an obsession with all things frilled at the moment? Everything I am sewing lately seems to have frills and tiers, luckily it appears to be a tread that is going to be around for a while and it is certainly one I am loving.

My latest make is the Friday Pattern Company Davenport Dress which I fell for as soon as I spotted it and purchased from their site with a discount that they were running for the new release.

This is a loose fitting dress that can be ruched in at the waist with a drawstring so no fitting and darts to worry about.

Boy did I struggle with this make, first up I should say that this was not down to the instructions which are very clear and easy to follow but totally due to my incompetence with a safety pin and a length of straight fabric, so if you would like to hear more about the saga then read on.

The first stage of this make was sewing the drawstring belt which would later go around the waist – a 5 minute job that turned into over 2 hours ( yes you did read that correctly!). After whizzing the length of fabric up on my machine right sides together, it was about 1.5 metres long and I needed to turn it. The instructions suggest using a safety pin to do this and that was my first attempt but I couldn’t even get started, I then turned to the loop turners that I purchased at the end of last year. I have used these a few times now and they usually work well, I have even stated on a previous blog that they are a game changer well not this time!

By this time my fabric was pretty much falling apart, the fabric I used was a linen blend and it was prone to fraying so rather than proceed any further I decided I needed to sew another drawstring and start again, this time I overlocked the edges to prevent it falling apart. So drawstring number 2 – I tried to turn with my loop turner again but it was having none of it. I then sent a message out on my sewing WhatsApp group and asked for suggestions. The lovely Holly – my locally fabric shop owner and teacher got straight back to me with a couple of suggestions, she also kindly offered to have a go for me if I popped it down to the shop and also suggested that I walk away for a while, get on with the rest of the dress and come back to it later. Wise words but do you ever get a bee in your bonnet about something and not want to give up or be beaten? This was me at this stage so I kept on trying, my final attempt was to use a pair of tweezers and try to pull it through, progress was made but it was going to be a long job.

https://www.sewwithholly.co.uk/

I finally decided to take Holly’s advise and put it to one side and started the rest of the project.

The rest of my project went along smoothly and the instructions were very easy to follow. I love how the bodice is put together. The front neckline has a piece of elastic that runs through a channel that is made with the facing, this gives a lovely gathered neckline and also means you can get it over your head without the need for a zip or button which is a real winning feature from my point of view. There is also gathering along the back bodice where it joins the back yoke.

I also love how the bodice has both front and back yoke pieces and this hides away the shoulder seams. The seam allowance is only 1cm and given the nature of the fabric I used there was no way I was going to be able to add French seams so I overlocked all of the other seams. When I make it again – which I am already planning I will add some extra seam allowance so that I can do French seams because I really think it is worth the time adding the extra finishing details to a dress like this.

The sleeves were easy to put in and the sleeve ruffle is another detail that I really love. The sleeves are loose fitting with an elastic ruffle at the wrist so again no fitting issues.

With the bodice put to one side it was then onto the skirt. The dress features good sized pockets, I never realised how much I love pockets until I started sewing my own clothes now I want them on every garment. These pockets form part of the skirt waistline. When joining the skirt to the bodice you also add the casing for the drawstring (which still awaited my attention!). The skirt pattern pieces are cut out as 4 separate pieces which would mean having a seam at the centre front and back, I didn’t want this so simply removed the necessary seam allowance and cut 2 pieces out on the fold. I am not sure why they have drafted the pattern like this, maybe because some of the larger sizes wouldn’t fit on the fold or it wouldn’t work on narrower fabric but it wasn’t a difficult alteration and my preference is to have as few seams as possible.

Joining the skirt panels to the bodice and the ruffle panels to the skirt wasn’t difficult but it is a little time consuming and not something that should be rushed. There are a lot of gathers and it is important to take the time to make sure they are fairly even along the seams. Everyone probably has their own technique for gathering, I found it easiest to start the gathering at the centre back and work to the centre front on either side of the skirt panels. I also measured the length of the bodice so I had some idea how much I needed to gather in, once I was close to this I then pinned the skirt to the bodice right side together and lined up the side seams before neatening out the gathers. I then repeated this method for the ruffle.

Once the skirt and ruffle were all in place it was back to the dreaded tie belt. I tried for a little while to continue turning my already sewn belt but soon gave in and opted for the easy option, the belt actually runs through the loop channel so only the tie that hangs down at the front of the dress can be seen and by this time I really didn’t care that the stitching on the drawstring would be visible. I cut out yet another drawstring piece and this time folded it in on itself like I was making bias binding it was then a 2 minute job sewing along the outer edges to enclose it! Perhaps it would of been a good idea to suggest this as an alternative method for less slippery fabric – it would certainly of saved my sanity.

The only other snag I had was inserting the drawstring into the casing – yet more problems with safety pins. I managed to get it nearly all the way through but somehow managed to push the drawstring into the pocket I also managed to bend the safety pin so it wouldn’t pull back out. I had to unpick some of the casing to get access, I then pulled the drawstring the rest of the way through before re-sewing the casing.

Anyway despite a couple of set backs which were down to the user and not the instructions I got there in the end and love my dress so much I now want another. I think it looks really nice in the fabric I have used, I wasn’t sure if ivory would be too pale for me because I am fairly light skinned but hubby says it really suits me and putting it on brings a smile to my face. All I need now is a little bit of sunshine and hubby can take me out for cocktails.

Total £32.39

Ivory Linen Blend £6.60 per metre x 3 £19.8o Gutermann Thread No.111 x 2 @£1.95 £ 3.90 Pattern £ 8.03 Elastic £ .66

Pattern Testing Poppy

I recently helped out with a pattern test for the Poppy Pinafore by Loop Mabel’s Closet. Jayne is the face behind Loopy Mabel; I have been following her for a while on Instagram and also YouTube where she does some great videos. When I heard she was planning to launch her first pattern I was delighted because she has such a nice style and I didn’t hesitate about applying to be part of the testing group.

The Poppy Pinafore is a great layering garment with can be worn over jumpers along with jeans or leggings in the cooler months; it would also be very easy to lengthen into a dress and could be made using a lighter weight fabric for the summer which I think will make an amazing dress. It has the all important pockets and a lovely button placket to add a really nice design feature at the back.

I really enjoy pattern testing; it is something I have done a couple of times now and have always had a great experience. It’s a great way to discover new pattern companies and meet like minded people and new sewing friends and everyone is always so helpful and friendly offering suggestions and good advice.

Now I have to say although this was a pattern test so I should have probably done a toile- life’s too short – I have quite a bit on at the moment with home renovations and sewing has been taking a bit of a back seat due to lack of space for sewing and cutting; also basically I can’t find anything currently and spend half my time searching for the tools for the job!

The fabric I used is a lovely cotton, it looks a bit like a needlecord but the ridges run across the grain rather than down. I picked it up from the Sewisfaction pop-up shop nearly 2 years ago when visiting fabric shops when real life was a thing; oh, how I miss those days; lets hope we can return to a bit of normality this year.

Sizing runs from XS to 2XL which covers bust sizes from 34.5 inches to 49.5 inches. Based on my body measurements of 35/32/39 this put me at S/L/M but because the finished measurements showed plenty of ease around the waist I decided to cut a small on the bust and then grade to a medium for both the waist and hips. Fabric requirements suggested 1.5 metres of fabric at 140cm wide but I actually managed to cut my pieces out of 1.25 metres so it is a great pattern if you are short on fabric. The pattern is drafted for a height of 5’5″, I am 5’3″ so kept the length as per the instructions which is perfect for a pinafore but I intend to make it up again as a summer dress so will add some inches next time.

The instructions are very well written and I had no problem following them; I would class myself as a fairly experienced sewer now but I think a beginner could easily follow the instructions; there aren’t too many pieces: just front and back bodice pieces, front and back skirt pieces, pockets and bias binding which is used on the neckline and armholes.

The bias binding can be cut from your fabric and there is a pattern piece for this but you could also use pre-made bias tape and add a contrast. There are a few techniques when making the pinafore – making a button placket, gathering, darts, and adding bias binding but all are well explained.

This pattern is right up my street; I love easy to wear, casual clothing especially now when I am spending so much time at home. It’s one of those must have items in my wardrobe which can be dressed up or down depending what it is styled with and it will certainly be one of those regularly reached for outfits.