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.

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:


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.

Breaking the Pattern – Ruska Knot Dress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Pattern testing the Casey Sweater

I recently spotted a call out for pattern testers – this is something I have been wanting to try for a while now. My sewing has got to the stage where I feel confident enough to try new things. I was delighted when I received an email to say that I had been selected for the pattern test and eagerly awaited further instructions.

The pattern test was for a fairly new sewing pattern company called Experimental Space – you can check out their site at the link below:

To date they only have one other sewing pattern (there are a few knitting patterns for the knitters out there) called the Evelyn Blouse which came out in September – I did say they were new. I am sure that there will be several more patterns to follow in the months and years to come.

Anyway I was 1 of 14 people to do the pattern test for the Casey sweater. The testing ran from the 2nd to 11th November but we were given some information beforehand such as fabric type and amount so that we could get prepared.

Pattern successfully taped together

The PDF pattern was sent out a couple of days before the testing to allow for sticking together or sending off for an A0 print. I usually send off for the A0 version but due to the time scales I decided I would have a go at printing at home for a change and sticking it all together. I am so glad that I did, this is something I have always shied away from in the past thinking that it would be really difficult and time consuming but I actually found the whole process quite enjoyable and will definitely do it myself again in the future.

Tester Instructions

I finally received all the instructions on the afternoon of the 2nd November and excitedly opened the file to have a read through on a train journey back from Birmingham. There were a few mistakes (spelling and line justification) that I picked up straight away – obviously that is the whole point of pattern testing, if it was perfect straight off then there would be no point. At first I felt a bit awkward about pointing out mistakes but Andrea was more than happy to receive them. Sometimes you just need another pair of eyes to spot the obvious mistakes.

The instructions were overall very good and when anyone didn’t understand anything or thought the wording could be improved then we had a group chat for this and Andrea was able to make the necessary adjustments. Once a few of us had made up our toiles and pointed out a few things on the instructions then Andrea got hard to work making the necessary adjustments. By the following evening we had all received another email with an edited version of the instructions to work from for our good fabric.

Toile Version

As for the pattern I really love it, it is available in both printed and PDF versions – I love the printed packaging and the artwork on the front is gorgeous. I found the sizing to be very true to size – I cut out my usual size based on my body measurements and sewed up my toile in a day – it took me a little longer than a pattern like this would usually take but this was due to having to communicate any parts of the instructions that I didn’t quite understand or that needed changing. I found the arms to be slightly tight (still very wearable) on my toile but this is something that I often have to change so no real surprise there.

There are some great details on the pattern – the welt pockets were a bit of a revelation, I can’t believe I have only just discovered them – they are definitely my new favourite type of pocket, I think I will be applying them to all of my clothes. The top also features a really nice neckline and the contrasting bottom half of the sleeves makes this top stand out from the crowd.

Loving my Welt Pockets

There are lots of ways that the contrasting fabrics could be used to make this in different ways. I followed the pattern instructions for the contrasting fabrics but next time I may use the contrast on the outer cowl piece and maybe on the pocket welts as well.

The navy fabric I used was a lovely french terry from Charlee Girl and the striped ponte was from Sew Me Sunshine:

Navy Stripe – Ponte Di Roma

My Final make

I will be making more of this pattern for sure, it is very comfortable and warm so ideal for this time of year.

I am looking forward to seeing what other patterns Experimental Space launch in the future, and wish Andrea every success in her business. The pattern is available in both pdf and paper versions and can be found at the links below: