Tag Archives: dressmaking
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that at the weekend I decided to tip out the boxes into which I’d hurriedly unpacked patterns and have a bit of a sort out.
Hubby has kindly offered to scan everything into an Evernote catalogue for me so I’ll never duplicate a pattern again, and I’m itching to sew but not sure where to start. It’s been so long, I don’t trust my hands at the moment for much other than sock knitting!
As I emptied each of the 4 boxes that will be the permanent home of the pattern stash, I sorted them into piles of the same…..dresses, trousers, skirts, etc., etc.
It’s a bit of a revelation. I’ve some fabulous contemporary patterns in there, Big 4 and Indie, and also a growing collection of vintage ones that is bigger than I’d originally thought. This is entirely thanks to the kindness and generosity of my lovely friends Liz and Christian, who have gifted me some corkers over the last year or so. Liz is a whizz with the charity shops and is the person who always finds the most amazing things. Vogue Couturier for £4 anyone!?!?
I think I need to get some archive envelopes for these and store them separately. I’ll happily share details in another post if you’re interested.
But for today I’m sharing some spares I have in my stash.
I’ve got half a dozen Cake Patterns up for grabs and a Frozen costume. Here are the ones available:
If you’d like any of these patterns then please let me know in the comments. If more then one person wants it I’ll draw names out of a hat!
Let’s say I’ll close comments on this on one on Friday 7th April. I hope they’ll find a good home.
Yet more flamingos for Miss Button.
A cute summer dress that looks like polka dots from a distance but gives you a happy surprise close up.
It fastens with a side zip and cute halter neck. Elastic at the top of the back keeps it snug and modest. And no pattern matching is required!
Most importantly….it has the twirl factor!
I was astonished to get Miss B into this dress today. She’s been really reluctant to wear her handmade clothes recently. However we finally got to the bottom of it this weekend (thanks Nana!).
A girl at a school party had commented that she looked “awkward” in this dress!
They’re 8 and already the mean girl stuff starts! It’s horrifying and heartbreaking. She’s already having confidence issues, but this is the second time this particular girl has said something thats knocked her sideways. Last time it was that Miss B is “fat”. Please feel free to insert your own expletive at this point. I did!
Sadly the girl’s mother isn’t remotely engaged. School keeps a tight rein on unpleasantness, but still it sneaks through.
As someone who was bullied hideously at school I’m trying to arm Miss B with the tools to fight this nonsense. And reminding her how beautiful she is…inside and out, how individuality is to be cherished, and how the people who love her love her for the amazing person she is. Anyone else’s idiocy doesn’t count in our family.
Thankfully, she’s got enough personality to bounce back, as these outtakes show.
These are the Miss B we know and love.
Pattern: Newlook 6204
Pattern cost: £2.98 (on half price sale)
Fabric: Cotton flamingo print – John Lewis
Fabric cost: £10/mtr – I used 1.5 mtr.
It’s nice to share some sewn stitches for a change.
How could I resist this adorable London themed fabric? It’s so very charming.
How cute is this? I just love it.
Fabric constraints meant that I couldn’t pattern match the bodice. So I fussy cut cute scenes instead. I’m happy with how it works.
I cut the skirt as one piece to maintain the integrity of the design, and managed to get an almost perfect match on the seam there.
Thankfully, Miss Button loves it too.
I’ll call that a win!
Pattern: Geranium from Made by Rae
Pattern cost: £10 – this is my 5th version, so it’s excellent value for money
Fabric: Cotton novelty print from The Buttonhole
Fabric cost: £5/mtr (I think). I used 1 mtr.
The majority of things I’ve made this year (and my productivity isn’t high at the moment) have been woolly socks for my lovely husband. However I’ve also been sewing for Miss Button, but getting her to pose for pictures has been a whole other ballgame. 8 is the new 14! Small girls are so stroppy!
However, en route to a friend’s party at the weekend, she was in a good enough mood for a quick 5 minutes of photos, despite the overcast and gloomy weather.
She’s mad for flamingos at the moment so I couldn’t resist this cute and colourful retro Hawaiian flamingo print. This is yet another geranium top (my fourth time with this fabulous pattern, I think).
Oh she looks so very, very tired. Summer holidays can’t come quickly enough!
I’ll be honest that I made no attempt at pattern matching. And because of this I managed to squeeze this top out of a metre of fabric. I had to skimp a bit on the gathering of the skirt. We’ve reached a tipping point where I need to start buying a bit extra fabric for her. She’s growing so quickly these days.
Ah….that’s my girl!
As always the Geranium was a quick and simple make that gives great results. The simple lines really show off the fabric at it’s best. This is a sweet pattern for little girls and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Pattern: Geranium from Made By Rae
Pattern Cost: $10
Fabric: Hawaiian-style flamingo print cotton
Fabric Source: Fabrix, Lancaster
Fabric Cost: £5.95/mtr
Do you remember this monstrosity?
This was BurdaStyle 123 – 11 /2014 before I set to work on it.
To be honest, though, this sweater has been a disaster from start to finish.
First up, I bought the PDF version of this pattern and it was simply awful to tape together. It had been printed in a batch of other patterns that all seem to be ok, so I’m laying the blame for that firmly at Burda’s door. It was all over the place and nigh on impossible to get two pages to line up properly.
Having compared my measurement to Burda’s measurement chart, I did a 4cm FBA. That was fine. But I ended up having to fiddle with the bust darts to make them point remotely in the right direction. They’re still a bit hinky. And I chopped inches off both the sleeves and the hem. They were crazy long!
Most importantly I hand-stitched the scarf to the neckline. It looks so much better this way and resolved the issue I had with the neckline being a bit too wide.
The fabric was bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show last November. When I opened it at home I was really disappointed to find these circular marks all over it. They look like faded grease stains and don’t follow the grain of the fabric. Another disaster! It’s so disappointing because this fabric is so soft and cosy and just the most amazing colour.
In real life they’re less noticeable than in the photos, but it means that this sweater is probably relegated to chill out wear for home.
I’m confident that I won’t be making this pattern again in a hurry. Not only is it fabric hungry because of the scarf, but the way the front pleats adds bulk where I need it least. I also prefer the scarf as an integral part of the sweater, so all in all this is just too much faff.
However, I’m glad this fabric is out of the stash and in the wardrobe. And whilst the weather is finally warming up here, this will be waiting for me on chilly nights.
I’ve made a start on the first of my planned TNT patterns, which is this BurdaStyle slim legged trouser.
The fabric I used is a 100% polyester crepe from Abakhan. I’m slowly edging away from polyester, but I’d booked myself onto a Sewing for Fun day at Stitchscape with Celia Banks, and new this was one of the patterns I wanted to work on.
I’d already cut them in a cotton drill but when I’d tacked them together for fitting it was really obvious there was a problem. It turns out the fabric was completely twisted on the grain. So I needed a replacement fabric. And fast.
It had to be navy and this was it!
Whilst it was a bugger to sew, it drapes really nicely and worked well in a pinch for the sewing class.
For the purposes of fitting, I cut without pockets or fly zip and did an invisible zip in the back seam. This isn’t my favourite style of trouser but I believe it’s a great way to simplify the pattern and work on the fit.
Ah…the obligatory derriere shot!
This clearly shows how flat I am at the back. I’m straight up and down with no waist or hips to speak of. This is one of the reasons I have such issues with RTW.
But I’m really happy with the fit at the back. I’m not sure I could get it much better than that.
The front is pretty good too.
All in all I’m quite pleased with these.
I think with a couple of tweaks they’ll be spot on. I definitely need to take the waist in at least 1/2″, maybe as much as 1″.
I also think that I need to drop the waistline by about 1/4 – 1/2″.
And I may scoop that front curve just a smidge too.
Finally, I’d like the leg to be slightly slimmer, as the next pair I make will be the 7/8ths length shown on the pattern and I like a more slender leg for that style of trouser.
But…these are a great pair of smart trousers and a very wearable toile! I’d definitely wear them for formal meetings (although those are few and far between) or, more likely, with a pretty top and my wedding heels (as here) for dinner out with the husband.
Now if only he’d book the table…..
I have finally dusted off the sewing machine and very nearly have two new garments to show you. This one needed quite a bit of work and a stern talking to!
Rest assured that scissors and expletives have been deployed and it’s looking much nicer now!
Between curses, I’ve also been narrowing down the possible patterns for tops for my proposed TNT pattern selection. As my daily uniform is jeans and a cute top, these patterns will, if I get it right, get a lot of use.
My criteria for this selection was that they’d be reasonably simple sews and would reflect the types of tops I chose in RTW. They also need to smooth over lumps and bumps whilst I work on getting rid of them, and be modest at the school gate. I just can’t deal with any garment in which I have to worry about flashing Father Gerry if I bend over to administer a hug or zip up a coat.
I’m fairly sure Father Gerry is grateful for this consideration.
Moving on! First up are popover shirts. I love, love, love a good popover shirt and this is the garment I wear most at the moment.
Newlook 6267 is pretty much perfect.
View A with bracelet length sleeves with a narrow cuff or elastic, and the back hem brought up to the same length as the front. In all the colours! I have several versions of this in RTW in my wardrobe and I love. love. love them! Honestly I could wear this and a pair of jeans all year round and be a happy girl.
Newlook 6267 is also a clone of a RTW favourite.
I had a navy RTW similar to view A, but with lace inserts rather than embellishments, and I wore it to rags with jeans and clogs in the summer.
As an aside, can I just say (again!!!!) that I do wish pattern companies would sort out their styling (bright orange and washed jeans….really?!) and their construction (that hem!) on their pattern envelopes.
Moving on again…I was inspired to purchase Newlook 6217 having seen Jane’s beautiful versions.
I’d been contemplating adding a woven tee to the mix and couldn’t resist. I’ll be honest that I’m not sure how this one will work for me, but I bought all of these patterns on sale so it’s not a great loss if this is a bust. And again with the crappy styling!
With the wovens out of the way I absolutely have to have a knit t-shirt pattern. I have two in mind. I like to be contrary in that way!
First up is Burdastyle’s Scoop Neck Layered Shirt.
I love this layered look although again it’s a bit of a departure for me. But I can see this working really well for cooler days when a tee on it’s own is a bit too cool, but a cardigan or jacket is too much. And its a great way to add some pops of colour to my wardrobe without scaring the horses.
Although the horses would probably mistake that necklace for a tasty snack and not be remotely perturbed by the top.
And last, but by no means least, is Cashmerette’s new Concord tee pattern.
I’m intrigued by the multiple cup sizes, but I was most swayed by a conversation at a sewing class last week. A friend of my sewing teacher has made it and only had to make the tiniest tweak to the side seams to get a perfect fit. She was astonished.
Also this has all the things I’m looking for in a tee pattern….scoop neck, shirttail hem, set in sleeves. So expect to see this in all the colours too. I think the v-necked version with a short sleeve would work perfectly with the Syrah Skirt.
And that’s a summer uniform that would get me out of jeans in a flash.
The easiest part of this planning activity has been planning what I’m going to sew for my bottom half.
Mainly because I almost invariably wear jeans.
A TNT jeans pattern would be an absolute godsend. I usually wear skinny jeans, particularly in the winter because I tuck them into Uggs* for the school run and proper knee boots when I’m going out somewhere slightly more decorous.
However, for warmer days I’m keen to have some slim legged but not skinny ones that I can wear with a loafer or ballet flat, with a rolled hem as desired.
Once I’ve got the fit nailed at the body, straightening the leg a smidge shouldn’t be beyond the wit of man!
So far, so straightforward.
Good to go.
However, I’m also itching to branch out into a cropped cigarette trouser that I can wear with a sneaker and a loose top or sweater. I’ve been pinning this look for some time now but when I saw Victoria Beckham this week, well, it just about pushed me over the edge!
This is such a perfect look for my life. Casual but smart. Comfortable for running around doing school run, college, errands, etc. It’s takes the outfit up a notch from jeans.
Now, I’ve already got Burda 6985 fitted and a pair cut out.
Goodness only knows what size they are so I suspect the pair that’s cut won’t fit but it may be a simple fix. I’ll need to check. But again, it’s a really good starting point.
The good thing about this pattern is that I can also change up the details once I’ve got the fit nailed. I can make them with the fly zip and back pockets, or I can make them flat and smooth with a back zip. This latter option would be a really good way of getting some trousers into my wardrobe super quickly.
So that’s trousers sorted.
But I’d like to add some skirts into the mix. I don’t often wear skirts and want to change that up. The first thing I need is a maxi skirt pattern. With a simple t-shirt and sandals this would be a great weekend outfit for pootling around the house and barbecuing in the garden.
Again I can shop the pattern stash for this one. I have the Syrah skirt from Baste + Gather on my laptop.
This is absolutely the look I’m going for. And the waist construction on this is new to me so I’m looking forward to giving this a go.
And if I fancy something a little different, I quite like this one from Burda. It’s from the February 2016 issue of the magazine, which I actually bought. I don’t buy many Burda’s, but this one did catch my eye.
And finally… a chino/jeans style skirt. Shopping the pattern stash again.
So-Sew-Easy is a new to me pattern company, but I couldn’t resist this pattern. It’s just a classic chino skirt with some nice detailing. It’s got a reasonable size range (up to a 50 hip) but again I could see this in different fabrics with a simple tee and I’m good to go. Much as I’m loathe to get the legs out, I need to get as much skin in the sun as possible this summer, so expect to see this one come around as soon as the weather starts to warm!
So that’s bottoms done! It’s been a real eye opener. You really don’t need all the shiny new things to get your wardrobe organised. And frankly, once these are fitted, the sewing up for all bar the jeans is fairly fast and straightforward. Jeans are only time consuming because of the topstitching.
What do you think? Am I oversimplifying this, or could I be on to something?
*Oh Uggs! How can you be so bloody clumpy and yet simply the only boot to wear on the winter school run? How many years did I shiver through my socks until you I gave up the fight? Sigh…I long for loafer and sandal weather, but I did catch myself peeking at possibilities for next winter whilst at John Lewis yesterday.
My name is Evie. I’m an Uggaholic!
Sewing seems like such a distant dream at the moment. On top of the usual stuff, for the last 4 weeks at least one of us, and most often all of us, have been suffering from some sort of lurgy.
Flu, the proper, debilitating, put you on your back in bed for 3 days, sort.
Gastroenteritis. I’ll let you work that one out! Eugh!
And, drum roll, chest infections. That’ll be me. Of course. Because its a month with a date in it so therefore I’m due a chest infection. However we’ve got to what we hope might be the root of the problem, a massive deficiency in Vitamin D*, so I’m hoping as that is improved, my immunity will strengthen right alongside it.
I’ll be honest, I’m not even knitting that much because I’m so tired. I’ve been knitting the same sleeve on Lemongrass for what feels like forever, but is definitely weeks.
What I am doing is scheming as to what I’m going to sew with my new found guidelines. And I’m planning to get down with the TNT patterns. I’ve been sewing since Noah built the ark and still don’t have a TNT pattern.
Which is ludicrous. Because if I’m honest I could get through to Armageddon with probably 6 – 10 patterns and just keep sewing them in different fabrics.
So, I’m going to make a start on that and see where it takes me. I’m going to chose patterns that will be the bread and butter of my wardrobe. Which then will leave me time to be creative with the jam. Or brie. Or hot crispy bacon.
For the Husband
The Husband loves a good checked shirt. But even quite pricey ones don’t cut the yoke on the bias and it drives me nuts. And, because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, it now drives him nuts.
Don’t get me started!
So, seeing as I’ve completely ruined shirt shopping for him, it’s time for me to put on my big girl pants and get him a TNT shirt pattern sorted.
The-rod-for-my-own-back shirt is on it’s very last legs. To be honest it should have been
shot turned into cleaning rags a while ago but he won’t let go until he has a handmade replacement. And as it’s 2 years since I made that shirt, (hangs head in shame) and I have a great length of fabric in the stash, I’m well overdue on this.
I have two options for this.** First up is to tweak the pattern I used last time, namely McCalls 6613.
I need to add a bit of length to the body and sleeves, draft a tower placket, and I think the cuffs look a tiny bit narrow, so would revisit them.
But I’m also intrigued to try a Bootstrap pattern and if I go down that route the pattern I’d chose is this Vado Modern Fit Shirt.
We’ll see which way he wants to go. But, this will be my first sewing project once I’m back on my feet. It’s his birthday in a month. A new shirt would be a fine thing, but I’m making no promises (you listening, Mr?! 😉 )
For the kids
I haven’t sewn for the kids in ages. To cut myself a bit of slack neither of them have complained. Which is possibly the only thing they’re not complaining about at the moment! That said, Button is keen to learn to sew so we have fabric for a project that we’ll probably work on over the Easter break. The fabric is awesome. It’s going to be fun!
I digress. The big issue I have with both of the munchkins is jeans. They aren’t particularly tall but they are mighty skinny and have both hit that “all legs” stage. It’s a RTW nightmare. Baggy waists end up so gathered to get them to stay up that they look bulky and are uncomfortable. Legs that are only just about long enough and so they grow out of them in no time.
Time for a good jeans pattern. The Titchy Threads Small Fry Skinny Jeans is the one I’m planning to try.
It looks like a really versatile pattern, with a proper zip rather than just a faux fly, instructions for reversing the fly for girls and a good range of sizes. It gets good reviews all over the interwebs, and it’s reasonably priced.
What’s not to like?
And the fun thing about making a TNT pattern for kids jeans is that they grow more up than out so for a while the only tweak I’ll need to do once the fit is sorted is to add some length.
Sweet! Or lazy? I’ll run with sweet, I think!
And whilst I on a shirt making tip, I’m going to crack the Ethan pattern by Sis Boom from my stash and fit this for my little man.
He has the same issue with shirts as jeans. Just soooooo skinny. Bless his heart. I swear you’d rather feed him for a week than a month, but he just doesn’t. stop. moving!
So it’s a start. Although with current productivity levels Armageddon or the Zombie Apocalypse will probably arrive before I fire up a sewing machine.
That said….if you have a great man’s shirt pattern or kids jeans pattern you can recommend, I’m all ears!
*Vitamin D levels in a healthy adult should stand at 80 nmol/litre. 50 is considered deficient. Mine are 12! It explains a lot.
**I do actually have more menswear patterns, but they are in storage at the moment. Under a pile of other stuff. I’m not even going there until we move house.
It’s a week in hospital and a plaster cast for sure if I try to liberate them!
Sewing for others has made something very, very clear. When I sew for myself I’m really, slapdash. When I sew for others I do things by the book.
And guess what?
The stuff I make for others always turns out better. Like….miles better! Even if I’m time constrained. Or it’s a ridiculously tricky fabric. Or, as is usually the case, a combination of the two! Who knew?
I know I’ve touched on this before but I’ve never really instigated a plan. Or maybe its more a set of guidelines.
Rules to Sew By!
Ooooh, that has a good ring to it! There’ll be a book offer on the table by the weeks end!
But seriously. I’ve been sewing for the best part of 40 years and still I’m focused on cranking out stuff to wear rather than upskilling to make them more beautiful. And it’s not like I’m making 20 garments a month. I’ve got no excuse.
So here are my new Rules to Sew By!
Rule 1 – Measure twice…..
I’m about to make an admission that will have seamstresses up and down the land beating a path to my door bearing pitchforks and burning torches.
I don’t have an up to date set of my measurements.
I know…it’s sewing sacrilege. It would explain why I have such issues with fit. And why, because stuff doesn’t fit as I want, I’m loathe to start sewing something for myself.
I need to fix that problem post haste and get my measurements down on paper. Regular updates wouldn’t go amiss, either.
Rule 2 – It’s all about the fit!
With my new found measurements in hand I’ll be all set to get the fit perfect first time, right?
wanted to poke admired those folk who say such things as “I made my usual 1″ SBA, 1/2″ sway back and 1/4″ forward shoulder adjustments and I was done”.
It struck me that if I kept ordered notes on each pattern brand of the adjustments I make for each brand, then I too could be one of those
smug clever folk who know just where to start to give them a fighting chance of a toile fitting with fewer adjustments.
you we all know, all the patterns are cut from the same blocks.
*hits desk with forehead repeatedly*
Rule 3 – It’s all about the fitting!
No….it’s not Rule 2 again. Not only do I have to figure out what adjustments I need to make, but how to make them, dare I say it…..properly!
You know…actually do a FBA before you even make a toile because you’re haven’t been a B cup since you were 13!
And its time to learn to do a dartless FBA too. Just sayin’
And when you roll the shoulder forward, you need to adjust the sleeve too! No, really…you do!
Rule 4 – Make a damn toile!
For every new pattern.
Rule 5 – Follow the damned instructions!
I know that I know how to sew, but I’ve also been doing it long enough to fall into some appalling habits. So actually, I suppose, I’ve gone all the way round to the beginning and really shouldn’t be let loose with scissors and thread!
So it’s back to basics.
Using the instructions and (when they’re out of storage) the rather fabulous range of sewing texts I own.
Rule 6 – Fit as you sew
Just because the toile looked ok, doesn’t mean the fashion fabric is going to behave in the same way. It’s better to fit as you sew than just stick your fingers in your ears, sing la-la-la-la-la and hope it works out at the end.
And then wonder why it doesn’t.
Rule 7 – Stop buying all the things
Why yes…that fabric is beautiful, but purple and green poppies aren’t really your thing.
Oooooh, look at that fabulous new indie pattern that every single sewing blogger and her dog is making….but don’t you already have something similar in your pattern stash?
Amazon called…can you please leave some sewing books for everyone else!
I’m not saying don’t buy stuff…just not All. The. Things.
Rule 8 – Make what you wear
This follows neatly on from Rule 7. Because whilst all the cool kids are making party dresses out of purple and green poppy silk dupion, what you wear in real life is jeans, tops and Ugg boots.
So why aren’t you making jeans and cute tops?
It’s probably pushing it to make your own Ugg boots. Unless someone out there has come up with a kit. In which case I’ll be all over it!
Until then…if you sew what you wear you’ll wear what you sew.
I should make that into a poster!
Rule 9 – Rome wasn’t built in a day
Primark may be able to make a bajillion t-shirts a day but thats why they are crap. Not even getting starting on the conditions and pay of workers in fast fashion sweat shops.
I don’t need to make a bajillion t-shirts. In a day or otherwise. I need to make a few really well fitted ones that work with my life and my style.
And if it takes me two weeks to fit the pattern, then so be it.
And it it takes me four versions to really nail the fit…….I think you know the answer.
Rule 10 – It’s meant to be fun!
I know I’ve discussed before how when I create I focus on the product, not the process. This isn’t necessarily a good thing. For starters, being focused on the finished garment doesn’t give me much headspace for creativity. And my life is probably the poorer for that. Felicia discusses this topic far more eloquently than I do. If you’re all about the product I highly recommend you check out this post. Even if you’re all about the process, go read anyway. She’s fabulous!
So there we go. My new guidelines for sewing.
Except they’re not new, really. They’re what I should have been doing all along. They just got lost in the rush to get stuff made.
Does any of this ring a bell with you? Or are you one of the smart ones who remembers to do things right?