Sewing Weekender and the Dayo Dress

At the weekend I took part in the Sewing Weekender, for those of you that don’t know this is an event that usually takes part in Cambridge in the UK and involves about 100 sewist coming together for a weekend of sewing and chat. I think it has been running for about 4 years now and is organised by Charlotte Powell (@englishgirlathome) and rachel and Kate (@thefoldline) I have never been to the live event – tickets are like gold dust and sell out almost instantly.

This year things were different, the event was originally planned for the end of August but due to the pandemic and lockdown it was cancelled and then made into an online event that people from across the world could sign up to. The tickets only cost £12.50 and nearly 2000 were sold with all of the money going to charity.

I had a great time, there were loads of videos to watch with sewing chat which I listened to whilst I worked on my project, each day also involved a zoom chat that you could join and you were able to join in the chat if you wished or just listen to everyone else and see what folk had been making. I also have a couple of sewing friend who I chatted to online throughout the day.

So onto what I made: I spent the weekend working on the Dayo dress by Sewing Pattern by Masin.

https://www.sewingpatternsbymasin.com/sewing-patterns/dayo-dress-and-blouse-pdf-pattern

This is a new to me pattern company which I only became aware of a few months ago when Kate from the Foldline mentioned it over on YouTube, I just loved the look of the sleeves and the neckline detail so added it to my ‘must have’ patterns list. Around the same time I purchased some lovely viscose from Material girl Laura and that was earmarked for the pattern.

https://www.materialgirllaura.co.uk/fabric-type2/viscose/beautiful-botanicals-viscose/?Page_ID=3610&refpid=62154&id=806311

I didn’t actually get round to buying the pattern until a week before the Sewing Weekender when the Foldline offered a discount code for the patterns on their site, they also offer a printing service for pdf patterns so I used that – I am not a fan of sticking together if I can avoid it.

The pattern suggests about 220cm of fabric for the dress and I only had 200cm , usually I find that I can get way with less but i did have to play about with the pattern pieces in order to get them to fit.  I actually took 3 inches off the skirt pattern pieces (I am oly 5ft 2″) and then had to cut the sleeves selvedge to selvedge, it’s a busy pattern so I don’t think it’s obvious the the flowers are running in a different direction on the sleeves.

Size wise my measurements put me at a small bust, large waist and medium hips, because of the elastic round the waist and looking at the finished measurements I went with the small bust and then graded to the medium.

The pattern dives right into the hardest part first with the tucks on the neckline. Viscose isn’t the easiest of fabrics to work with so I found the best way to do it was to put pins in all the tuck markings and then bring the pins together in turn pinning the fabric to the ironing board as I went. Once I was happy with all the positioning and had both sides of the neckline balanced I ironed the tucks into place and then headed to the sewing machine to tack them down.20200613_110404

The back of the bodice has a split from the top of the neckline and the raw edges are just folded over and sewn.

The pattern only uses a 1cm seam alowance, I would of preferred a 1.5cm seam so that I could of used french seams along the side seams for a really neat inside but there was not way I was going to manage them with only 1cm and fraying fabric so i overlocked all my seams instead.

In order to get the puffed sleeves you need to use shirring around the wrists. I have only done this once before and it is best to practice first on a bit of scrap fabric to get the tension right, when you first sew it doesn’t always look as though the elastic is gathering the fabric that much but the more rows you do the more it will come in and the magic really happens when you blast some steam over your fabric and the elastic contracts.20200613_130658

The front and back bodice are joined together at the shoulders and the side seams are sewn up before adding the sleeves but I found they went in really easily with no gathering to make them fit.

The neckline is finished off with bias binding and then it suggests a hook and eye at the top of the back opening. I didn’t have one so used a bit of elastic and a button which I think works just as well.

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So that was the bodice finished and then onto the skirt which is just sewn up at the side seams and then the skirt can be attached to the bodice. The shirring then needs to be done along the top of the skirt section, it’s exactly the same method as the sleeves just on a bigger scale.

So this is my Sewing Weekender Dress and I absolutely love it:20200614_14231320200614_14224720200614_142243

For now I will have to enjoy flouncing round the garden in it until lockdown is lifted and we can go out for a nice meal.

Closet Case Jenny Trousers

20200614_083125I recently made the Jenny trousers, I had been looking for some wide leg trousers patterns for a while when I first spotted the Closet Case Jenny and seeing as they are my namesake it seemed the obvious choice.  I first tried out this pattern about 6 months ago with some fairly light weight linen from Sewisfaction.

First time round I went with the cropped length and although the instructions are very good I got myself into a real muddle when adding the pockets – I had used some contrasting fabric which in truth was far too heavyweight for pockets and I managed to sew them to the trousers so that the lining showed on the edges of the trousers (not a good look) and I ended up having to do a lot of unpicking and re-sewing. This time round I went much more slowly and used a lightweight cotton lawn for the pockets and they turned out much more successfully, the pocket facings need to be the same fabric as the trousers in order to conceal the lining from the outside.

Size wise I sewed the size 12 on the waist, my body measurement falls between the 12 and 14 but again from previous experience I knew that the 14 was a little on the loose side so went smaller this time I also shortened the crotch very slightly (a mere 1/4″) but that makes enough difference to the fit.

Having gained some experience over the few years that I have been sewing I don’t always feel the need to follow the instructions by the letter and have found that sometimes there are easier (for me) methods. The instructions use a method for sewing the trousers legs together where you place one leg inside the other, my preferred method is to sew up the crotch seams ( back legs wrong sides together then repeat with the front legs) and then sew the inside leg seam from hem to hem and then you just have to sew the side seams up.

20200602_111014Another thing I changed was the zipper were I replaced the pants zipper with a concealed zip. I still haven’t got the zip attachment down to a fine art and it isn’t totally concealed but I am happy enough with it and I now know how to continue the seam down nicely after the bottom of the zip, I used to get into all sorts of problems with this and have had gaps between the bottom of the zip and the rest of the seam or unsightly bumps but I read a handy tip a while ago that instructs once the zip is in place sew the rest of the side seam starting just above the zip end and just behind/inside your seam allowance.

I did get myself into a bit of a mess when adding the waistband – this should be one of the easier stages but after sewing the waistband and waistband facing together I decided that I had sewn the wrong long edge which would of meant that the pointed tab which hangs over the edge of the trousers would of been on the back instead of the front, I unpicked it all and resewed the other edge only to discover that I had done it correctly in the first place, yet more unpicking! Does anyone else find that they can make the simplest of tasks complicated sometimes?20200602_123017

I opted to finish off with a fair bit of hand stitching so I slip stitched along the inside of the waistband and then hemmed the trousers again all my hand, I had cut the trousers fairly long so had to take off a good few inches from the bottom until I was happy with the length.  I am happy with how they have turned out and will definitely be using the pattern again (probably adding the bib next time) and hope to fine tune the fit even more.

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Wendy Ward Basics for Everyone – Shirt

I have made a few shirts for my husband over the last couple of years and have previously used the ‘Gentlemen’s Wardrobe’ book which contains both long and short sleeved versions. Much as my husband appreciated them I have never been quite happy with the fit at the collar which is a little on the tight side, this isn’t really an issue in that he doesn’t tend to fasten the top button anyway but it is something that as always bugged me and I have not felt that I have the experience to change it.

I recently won the Wendy Ward ‘Basics for Everyone’ book when I took part in the @Sewover50 challenge (#so50visible) on Instagram, this challenge showcases pattern companies that use older models for their advertising/pattern illustrations.

Sewing Basics for Every Body by Wendy Ward **SIGNED COPY**

I modelled the Closet Case Sienna Maker Jacket for the challenge whilst also adding the #poselikethemodel.IMG_20200309_174432_607

The book contains several patterns that can me adapted for both male and female, including a jumpsuit, coat and shirt so my first make from the book was the Rowan Shirt.

The shirt offers several different options in both length, sleeve style and shape of hem. My husband opted for a short sleeved shirt and I sent for this fun holiday print for him from Textile Express.20200515_123026

One thing that I noticed straight off is that the instructions in Wendy Ward’s book are far user friendly than in the Gentlemen’s Wardrobe book, the first time I attempted a shirt for my husband with the Gentleman’s Wardrobe book I spent hours on the internet following tutorials. One of the first stages was preparing the front plackets for the buttons and buttonholes. This book uses a different method than I have used before. Previously I have used a separate placket piece whereas Wendy’s book simply folds the front over. One thing I would say is that I did change her method slightly. In the book the instructions ask you to cut along the cutting line and then turn the fabric over once then unless you add binding to the edge you will be left with a raw edge (this could be finished with an overlocker).  I really appreciate nice finishes on the inside of the garment so I decided to cut the front pieces wider so the I could turn the edges over twice thus tucking all the raw edges inside.20200515_122949

One thing that is explained really well in the book is the burrito method. This is a great method and ease once you get the hang of it and gives a really nice finish on the inside with the shoulder seams concealed.

The collar and collar stand are also very well explained but one thing I would point out is that if you have a directional print then you need to cut out your collar pieces so they appear upside down otherwise when you fold the collar down your pattern design will be standing on its head!20200515_12440020200515_144704

Another thing I really like about these instructions is that the sleeves are attached on the flat – this is definitely my favourite method for adding sleeves. I also like how the sleeve heads are finished off with binding and then top stitched into place. On my previous shirts I have used the flat felled method which is so fiddly and I can guarantee that I usually miss a section that doesn’t catch in the stitching.

Overall I am really pleased with how the shirt turned out and the fit is much better around the neck. It is a more loose fitting shirt my design and I could possibly go down a size for him next time. Hubby is very pleased with his new shirt and he will certainly look the part when we can finally go on holiday (at the time of writing we are about 8 weeks into lockdown).20200606_101536

I look forward to making some other items from Wendy’s book and may treat myself to a new shirt, I am sure I have some suitable fabric in my stash. I will also refer to these instructions should I use a different pattern, well written instructions make sewing so much easier.

 

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

Liberty Fabric Kalle Shirt

I picked up some Liberty fabric earlier in the year from the Rag Market in Birmingham, At £8 per metre I thought it was an excellent buy and loved the print so it was put to one side until I was sure what I wanted to make with it.

The Kalle shirt is a pattern I have made before a couple of times. I sewed the tunic version last year and wrote this post about it:

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/142022226/posts/45

then I also sewed up the cropped version to go with some dungarees I had made for the Goodwood Revival. In truth the cropped version was too short for my liking and the fabric I chose was a little to stiff to sit nicely under my dungarees so I ended up sending it off to the charity shop.

I decided to change this version slightly to get the look I wanted – I went with the tunic version again because the length in very much the style I like to wear with jeans and trousers but I decided to shorten the back which is designed to hang quite a bit longer than the front. To do this I simply measured the front pattern piece and traced off the back at this length.

The hem can be a little tricky because it does have a deep curve, the pattern suggests using bias tape that can be made from the material. I had some left over bias in my stash so decided to use this. I also hemmed the front and back pieces before sewing up the side seams. This is a technique I copied from the Deer and Doe Melliot Shirt, when I first read this method I was a little unsure about it but I must say it works a treat and makes the curve at the side seams sit really nicely.

I did some pretty amazing pattern matching for the pocket (if I do say so myself) and used a contrasting thread for all the top stitching which matches nicely with the dancers costumes.

Finally I added odd buttons which I sorted out from I big tin of buttons that I had gifted to me by my mother-in-law, I was a little unsure if this would work but asked for opinions over on my YouTube channel and the general consensus was that I should go for it. I am so pleased that I did and think that they add an extra feature to the shirt.

The Kalle shirt is a really nice pattern to sew, the instructions are very well put together and there are extra online tutorials if you get stuck. This is definitely becoming my go to pattern for shirts and I like the fact that you can make them look different with the various options. I have made 3 now and they all look a little different with the length options and the different plackets and collars.

Do you have a go to shirt pattern? I would love to here.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyn4UF06a9A2crMETFCx2QA?view_as=subscriber

Fabric Shopping in Beautiful Krakow

I recently had the pleasure of spending a few days in the wonderful city of Krakow. It wasn’t a city I knew much about and it definitely wasn’t on my radar in terms of places to visit but there happened to be a notice in our local travel agents advertising a few days for a good price so we decided to book very much on impulse and I am so glad that we did.

It is such a beautiful city surrounded by a park area with fantastic architecture and many places of interest. Being a keen sewer I always have a quick google to look for fabric shops when visiting any new city and it was pretty clear that Krakow had many.

We arrived on a Monday evening so dropped our bags off at our hotel which was in the Kazimierz area (The Old Jewish Quarter), an excellent base because it is fairly central for the other areas that we wanted to visit. We found a delightful restaurant just around the corner http://www.restauracjawarsztat.pl which was very reasonably priced (for the 2 of us we spent on average about £20 for an evening meal including drinks) after dinner we took a short stroll and found a very nice bar.

The next day was lovely, considering it was mid-October when we visited the weather was glorious and we spent most of the days walking round in short sleeves although it did drop cooler on the evening. We had decided to head to the Old Town for our first day which was about a 20 minute stroll away. We got delayed slightly because within 2 minutes of the hotel we found our first fabric shop so obviously I had to pop in for a look.

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Tkaniny Krakow Dietla 40, 31-000 Kraków, Poland

http://deedeemode-tkaniny.pl/

This was probably the smallest of the shops that I visited but had a good selection with some especially nice jersey fabrics. I did buy 2 metres of the jersey fabric pictured below because I thought it was a little different than anything I have seen back home in the UK. I am not sure of its composition because I speak no Polish and the lady in the shop couldn’t speak English but it feels like a ponte weight fabric and is 2 way stretch, the price was also good at 38 Zloty per metre (£7.63) with the exchange rate at the time of purchase.

On the same side of the river in the area known as Old Town we came across this Fabric shop:

Tkaniny KraKow. Madec Świętego Filipa 7, 31-150 Kraków, Poland

https://tkaniny-madec.pl/

Again they had a good selection of fabric but nothing that really jumped out at me so I resisted temptation. The Old Town is a very popular tourist area with some lovely buildings and a big square where you can find The Cloth Hall, several restaurants and horse and carts lined up ready to take people on a tour or the area.

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The following day we headed in the direction towards the river and came to the Love Bridge so called because of all the padlocks attached to the sides. It is also a magnificent sight due to all of the acrobatic sculptures suspended along the centre. On the other side of the bridge is the area known as Podogrze which is home to a lovely park where we spent a couple of relaxing hours sat on a bench watching the squirrels – there’s red squirrels which I haven’t seen since I was a young girl (they have pretty much died out in the UK) and black squirrels which I have never had the pleasure of seeing before.

TKANINY KAKADU

Krakowska 35, 31-062 Kraków, Poland

We came across the shop below after crossing the bridge, it had a huge selection of fabrics of all types including some lovely coating fabric.

Tkaniny Krakow.Meda Limanowskiego 7, 33-332 Kraków, Poland

The coating fabric cost 35 Zloty per metre (£7.07 per metre) and I had what was left on the roll (2.2 metres) which should be just enough for a jacket. They also had a very good selection of lining fabrics so I selected the perfect match which was 8 Zloty (£1.62) per metre.

The final shop was discovered on the way back to our hotel and was in an area that is currently undergoing a lot of work to lay new tram lines.20191017_153700.jpg

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By this time I really couldn’t buy any more fabric – I don’t think I would have been able to fit it in my suitcase but hopefully you can see from the window display that they had a lovely selection.

I really enjoyed my time in Krakow and will definitely return some time soon and next time I think I will leave a little more room for more fabric.

 

 

Tilly and the Buttons Indigo

I always get super excited when I hear that Tilly and the Buttons is bringing out a new pattern, I love her patterns. The style is very much me and I am confident that the instructions are always going to be good.

When the Indigo top and tunic was announced I didn’t hesitate to order it and to date I have made two tunic length smocks.

The first dress was made up in a light weight viscose from Pin and Sew with a lovely feather design.

Purple Feathers Viscose

I had read a few reviews that said the smock was fairly loose fitting and although I wanted to maintain some of the looseness I didn’t want it to look over big so decided to downsize from my usual size. I usually cut a 4 in the Tilly patterns and then grade to a 5 at the waist but I decided to go for a straight size 3. This was a mistake and I had to use a very narrow seam around the arm and underarm area, luckily Tilly is very generous with the seam allowance which should be 5/8 inches so I brought it in to 2/8 inches all along the sleeve and underarm and then graded back to the normal seam allowance once I hit the waist and the fit came out pretty well.

For my second dress I used some cheap fabric that I picked up at a recent sewing event – #sewbrum is based in Birmingham, England and is an annual event which has been running for about 5 years I think. This was my second time attending and I had the most amazing day. There were about 300 sewists who decended on Birmingham to spend time around the Rag Market where many a bargain is to be had, Barry’s and The Fancy Silk Store and then onto Guthrie and Ghani for refreshments, a raffle and a final bit of fabric shopping.

https://guthrie-ghani.co.uk/

The animal print fabric cost me £1 per metre from The Rag Market so although it probably isn’t the best quality I can’t complain and am pretty pleased with how it turned out. I seem to have a bit of an obsession with animal print. I sized up to a 4 this time and used the normal seam allowance, I also decided to add ties this time so that I can bring it in around the waist. I still haven’t got the fit perfect, the area around my underarm always seems to be the problem area and I could still size up slightly there but the fit everywhere else is good so maybe it is another adjustment that is required.

I have added the flouncy sleeves on both of my makes but I have yet to add the frill seam to the waist but plan to do this once I have got the fit just right.

this is definitely one of those patterns that I can see me making over and over. It is the sort of style that I like and can easily be dressed up or down to suit the occasion. I also think it is a style that can be transitioned for all seasons with the addition of boots for autumn/winter and maybe short sleeves for the summer. Oh and it has pockets too😍

Do you have a favourite pattern company that you turn to time and again? I would love to hear.

Sewing a Mans Shirt

Every once in a while I do a little bit of selfless sewing. I don’t have the confidence to make clothing for anyone other than my husband so he is the usual recipient. I have made small gifts such as bags and purses for family before but sewing clothing is a different ball game and I think it would cause me too much stress and take the pleasure that I get from sewing away.

This isn’t the first shirt I have made for my hubby, in fact it is the 3rd long sleeved one I have made to date and I am happy to say I have improved each time.  The main fabric is a lovely quality Lady McElroy  Cotton Lawn from Lamazi Fabrics and I teamed it with a plain blue cotton lawn which matches the blue flowers perfectly.

Lady McElroy – Watercolours Cotton Lawn Dress Fabric

I made his first shirt when I had only been sewing for about 6 months and I had not tried many techniques so have to say I really struggled with the instructions back then. The pattern I used was from ‘The Gentleman’s Wardrobe’ and my original blog can be found here:

https://jennylovestosew.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/feeling-sew-achieved/

At the stage I am at with my sewing now I really don’t understand how I found the instructions so difficult, the first time I sewed this I pretty much abandoned the written instructions and turned to YouTube were I learnt how to use the burrito method – this puzzles me somewhat now because the burrito method isn’t even mentioned in the book, instead it gives a far easier method where you attach the front pieces to the inside yoke and then turn the top placket edge under by the seam allowance and top stitch! guess I learnt to run before I could walk.

One thing I did get wrong on this shirt was attaching the undercollar to the collar – totally my fault and not down to the instructions. For this shirt I had decided to use a plain blue fabric for the inside yoke, inside collar stand piece and the under collar. When I was joining the collar to the collar stand I sewed it with plain colours both facing one way and patterned pieces the other way. When I came to join it to the shirt I realised that this would mean either the blue side of the collar stand would face outwards with the patterned collar on top or the patterned collar stand on the outside would mean that the blue collar would be on the top. This is not how I intended the shirt to look so I had to unpick the whole thing, this was made rather difficult because I had trimmed the seam allowances. With lots of care and some careful stitching along a very narrow seam allowance I managed to put things right.

The rest of the shirt went fairly smoothly, I have finally cracked the flat felled seams, again the first shirt I made these seams weren’t brilliant but this time I think they look pretty neat.

I did have a little trouble with the buttonholes, the first couple went smoothly but then my machine decided to start sticking and sewing repeatedly in one place (I really don’t know why this happened because it wasn’t being obstructed by any seams adding bulk) I got there in the end by having to finish a couple of the buttons with a little hand sewing.

This is definitely one of my proudest makes, I took lots of care over the finishing carefully selecting the buttons which match perfectly with the blue and I took my time with some hand stitching. My husband is delighted with it and will be wearing out next week when we are off to Goodwood to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary.

Testing Rosalee

I recently had the opportunity to pattern test for Experimental Space, I have done a couple of pattern tests for Andrea before and was really excited when she put a call out for her latest pattern – The Rosalee maxi dress.

Rosalee Dress : Sewing Pattern (Paper)

I love maxi dresses but being on the short side purchasing shop bought is pretty difficult so having the opportunity to make my own is a big plus👍

I should mention for transparency that the pattern was provided free of charge. A testing callout was put out on Instagram and I followed the link to apply, during the application a few details are required such as body measurements and sewing ability. These details are needed because it is important to get a variety of sizes and abilities in order to do a thorough test.

Once the testing team was selected a group chat was set up and Andrea gave us the details of fabric requirements so we could start selecting our fabric, next came the pdf files for printing off the pattern so we were all ready to go once the instructions were sent over. It is important to note that the files that we first receive may contain errors, obviously this is all part of the need for testing in order to iron out any errors that may of been overlooked so we were advised to sew up toiles first before cutting into our best fabric.

The dress is a swooshy maxi dress so I wanted some swoohsy fabric. Suggested fabrics are rayon, viscose and crepe or maybe a cotton lawn for an easier sew. I chose this gorgeous peachskin fabric from Sewisfaction that I had already got in my stash. I had originally earmarked this fabric for a jumpsuit but knew when I saw Andrea’s pattern that this would be perfect.

https://www.sewisfaction.co.uk/product-category/fabric/

There are some lovely details on the dress – a nice cutout detail on the back, some gathering around the waist, a lovely neckline and the biggest pockets I have ever seen.

The size chart goes from 31″ bust to 43″ bust. I went with my body measurements (35/32/38) so sewed up a Cara for the bust and graded up to an Eve on the waist. The pattern is also drafted for different heights starting at 5ft 3″ and going up to 5ft 7″ I found this really useful and was able to cut the shortest size and save on fabric – the pattern suggests that you will need 3.5 metres of fabric 1.4m wide and I was able to get my dress out of 2.5 metres of fabric which was 1.5m wide by using a contrasting fabric for the facings.

The pattern is described as being for ‘Improvers’ because there are a couple of techniques that newer sewers may be unfamiliar with such as a mini burrito for the facing and attaching an invisible zipper but the instructions are very good and walk you through these processes very well.

I found the instructions for the burrito particularly good, I have used this method before but usually take to YouTube and follow a video to see what I am doing but I was able to follow the written instructions very easily and completed my burrito without any problems, this method gives a really nice finish on the inside.

My toile turned out really nicely too – this fabric was discarded in the corner of my bedroom for nearly 2 years! so it is good to finally turn it into something pretty and wearable.

I have also filmed a vlog over on YouTube that can be found here:

If you fancy a maxi dress too then I would highly recommend this pattern. Anyway that’s it from me and next time I wear this dress I plan to be sitting by the pool on our holiday sipping a cocktail.🍹😎