Tunic Top Mark II

tunic top 2

I previously made a “sample” top from woven fabric to demonstrate the project planned for a workshop on Saturday 28th November at New Threads, Weyhill Fairground, Andover, Hampshire.  The sample was made to fit me, let’s just say it is a generous size 20! New Threads happen to have a dressmaker’s dummy at the shop,  she is called Elsie and  is  a very slim size 12. As encouragement to prospective students of the workshop I have now made Elsie a new top in her size.

I used a novelty printed cotton from my stash. I was a little short of fabric and had to cut the back bodice as two pieces with a centre back seam. This time around I made bias binding for the neckline from a remnant of the same fabric. The binding was cut 2 inches wide, then folded in half lengthwise, wrong sides together in the same way that one uses binding on patchwork quilts. Combined with all the seams sewn as flat fell seams, including the setting in of the sleeves, means that there are no raw edges on the inside of the tunic. The hems on the tunic bodice and sleeves were sewn with a twin needle – such a great professional finish to the garment.

Woven Fabric Loose-fitting Tunic Top


I made this loose-fitting Tunic top as a sample in anticipation of a Dressmaking Workshop that I hope to tutor in the Autumn term. The design of the top makes it easy, fast and stylish. It can do double, even triple duty because depending on the fabric that you select it looks dressy or casual. It is also one of the fastest garments to sew which makes it ideal for the beginner or novice dressmaker. In addition to having just three pattern pieces the tee shirt features several time-saving assembly techniques whilst also providing the opportunity for development into several variations using the simple basic pattern.

As this is the basic sample I have incorporated techniques such as stay stitching, applying bias binding to the neckline but with the option of drafting a facing, sewing flat fell seams, setting in sleeves using the flat method, hemline vents and twin-needle sewing for hems.

The tunic works well in a wide variety of fabrics from cotton, poplin, velvet, crepe de chine, satin, brushed cotton and lightweight linen.

I used a nautical-theme print poplin purchased from New Threads, Weyhill Fairground, Andover. The top took just 1.4 metres of 150 cm wide fabric plus a length of White bias binding from my stash and approximately 2.5 hours to make.

I hope that this sample garment will inspire dressmakers to attend the workshop which is planned to be the start of a course of lessons providing tuition in dressmaking a top, skirts, versatile dress and much more.

Reversible Scalloped Apron

scalloped apron

01 dark side  01 light side

For this project I was able to use some new fabric that I bought specially for the reversible Scalloped Apron. The co-ordinated fabric is a multi-colour fruit design on backgrounds of Pale Pink and Black purchased from my favourite dressmaking fabric store – Fabricland in Salisbury.

The sewing pattern is from The Paisley Pincushion based in Oregon, USA and I found it originally on someone’s Pinterest board. This is a great pattern with a wide range of sizes in the one envelope. There is a child’s size pattern for chest 20”-26” and then 3 further sizes ranging from Bust 26” up to Bust 50”. I made the large size for Bust 42” – 50” it fits well and is just the right length. The pattern envelope states that you need 2 ½ yards of each fabric but I found that by “fudging” the grainline on the back pieces I was able to cut the apron from just under 2 yards. This was just as well as I made an error when placing the front pattern pieces overlooking the fact that the fabric had a one-way design. I then had to re-cut the front pieces with the pineapples the right way up! So now I have 2 front pieces of the apron with upside down pineapples, I will have a think about these as I don’t want to waste the fabric. I may cut linings and back pieces from fabric in my stash to make a further 2 aprons to give as gifts at Christmas time.

The only change that I made in the construction was to add linings to the pockets so that they could be stitched with a ¼ inch seam and then “bagged” out. This provided a much neater finish to the pockets and reflected the construction of the apron itself.

I am delighted with the end result and will definitely be making the apron again. The only alteration I will make next time is to raise the underarm by approximately 4 inches and also reduce the scallops on the back pieces to make a simple gentle curve. To use up fabrics from my stash I may try some mix and match by adding a centre front seam so that there will eventually be at least 8 different prints in the apron. 


Nautical-themed Cross Body Bag by Deby Coles Mark V

02   04

The dates for the two workshops where I will be tutoring the making of this bag are getting closer. Today I  made another sample for New Threads at Weyhill Fairground. I used a lovely Nautical-themed cotton print (bought from New Threads) for the exterior of the bag and plain White polyester cotton for the lining. For the exterior zip pocket I used a Red zip and for the interior a White zip. I have tidied the sewing room sufficiently to be able to switch on the linen press and that made fusing the interfacing and wadding so much more efficient that this bag was the quickest in construction.  I used nickel hardware for the bag – a twist lock, 2 x D rings, a strap adjuster and 2 x swivel clip hooks.

So that’s about it for bag-making for a little while. Next project is a dress!



Multi-purpose Tech Tablet Bag III


This project was to be one that used fabric from my stash and the embossed, faux quilted jersey looked like a prime candidate. I decided that it would be ideal as a padded bag for an e-reader. In a little over 2 hours the bag was completed. I used plain natural-coloured cotton for the lining and a green zip for the back pocket. The bag measures approximately  8.5″ wide x 10.5″ deep so will also accommodate a small  i-pad or tablet. 



The zip being shorter than required was extended with tabs in the lining fabric. Despite cutting away some of the wadding the closure strap was very thick meaning that I could not make a button and buttonhole fastening. I have still not located my stash of velcro, so instead I used a nickel-finished tuck lock which co-ordinates with the “silver” gromit of the flap.

I  have a long length of this unusual fabric left – it will be appearing on the blog again soon!

Multi-purpose Tech Tablet Bag II

e-reader bag 2

I woke up really early this morning and rather than snooze or surf the internet I decided to go into my sewing room and prepare for the next multi-purpose tech tablet bag. This time I would make it slightly smaller and without a strap simply to be used as a bag for my e-reader.

I used some more of the Blue & White dog print cotton from New Threads and co-ordinated with some recycled stripe cotton from one of my husband’s old pyjama jackets! I unpicked the Red piping and used it around the bag flap to co-ordinate with the red zip, button and topstitching.

In a little over 2 ½ hours I had not only prepared the fabrics but completed the entire project! By speeding through the construction I noticed that the fusible wadding was not thoroughly fused in all places. Next time I make this bag I will either use some pre-quilted fabric or will quilt the pattern pieces prior to construction.

After our weekly sewing group meeting I visited New Threads and left this bag together with examples of the Cross Body Bag so that Ladies who sign up for the Workshop to be held in October will be able to see exactly what they will be making.

Next on the list – prepare another Cross Body bag to take on holiday plus a Multi-purpose bag for my Sister’s birthday. The latter will have to feature chicken print somewhere in the construction!

e-reader bag reverse



Camouflage Cross Body Bag – Mark IV designed by Deby Coles of So Sew Easy

camouflage bag 1     camouflage bag 2 reverse

I have recently been approached to tutor workshops for making this great bag. Deby Coles has made me an affiliate for her patterns and I am now booked to tutor at least two workshops in the Autumn Term.

The first is to be held in September at Franklins, Salisbury, Wiltshire and the second at New Threads, Weyhill Fairground, Andover, Hampshire.

As I have been asked to supply some examples of the bag so that prospective students can see exactly what they are going to make, I have been busy stitching yet another bag – this time using a great camouflage printed stretch cotton fabric that I bought at New Threads.

The hardware for the bag is all brass. I have used two D rings in fabric loops, then 2 swivel hook clips at each end of the strap which also has an adjuster slider. To complete the bag there is a twist lock on the flap to ensure all the goodies stay safe inside the bag.

I think that because of the camouflage print this bag could be used by either a male or female. That makes it even more versatile. Next step is to make a multi-purpose tech or tablet bag using the same fabric which I believe will be an ideal Christmas gift for the male of the species.

camouflage bag 3 open

Multi-purpose Tech or Tablet Bag by Deby Coles of So Sew Easy

01   02

It is only in the past month that I have discovered Deby’s sewing projects on the Craftsy  website and I admit that I am a great fan. This is yet another pattern that comes with a video tutorial showing you step-by-step exactly how to achieve a professional result.

In the introduction to the pattern Deby says:

“Do you own an iPad, tablet, reader, Kindle, small laptop or other mobile computer?  Then you’ll probably want to take it out and about with you and this bag has been especially designed with that in mind.  But even if you don’t have a techie item to carry, its a useful bag with some great pockets and features that you’ll love.”

“The padded tech bag is designed for your tablet or reader, and carries it in safety along with a zipper pocket in the back for your charger, phone, wallet and more.  It’s roomy enough to carry a tablet but smart enough to use as a purse.  Tablet or tech is optional – it’s a great bag without it!”

I feel as though I have learned another technique to add to my  skills – this time it was inserting the large round gromit which I found really easy. So why have I always put off using them for curtains? There was also a different way for inserting the zip which takes advantage of highlighting a contrasting zip and tape. For my tech bag I could not find any velcro fastening so used a button and buttonhole instead. I used a contrasting button in Rust Red against the Blue and White Dog printed cotton that I bought from Meg of New Threads, Weyhill Fairground, Hampshire. I also used a  Rust-coloured zip for the pocket on the reverse of the bag. As I have a stock of bag hardware I decided to add an adjustable strap which is attached to the bag with nickel rectangles and fabric loops. The finished size of the bag is approximately 9 inches wide x 11.5 inches tall plus the adjustable strap 40 inches maximum.



I am once again delighted with the project and plan to make another, this time with contrasting fabrics as shown in Deby’s  demonstration bag but without the strap to use for storage of my kindle e-reader.

Toile de Jouy Print Dress

toile de jouy dress 01

By way of a change (not!) this week I went “off plan” and made a new dress. At least I did keep to the resolution to make alternate projects using fabric from my stash.

I am not absolutely sure of the fabric constitution nor where and when I bought this long length of super-wide Toile de Jouy printed cotton(?) but it has been in my stash for several years. It may have come from Abakhan Fabrics in Mostyn, North Wales but I can’t be certain.

Having checked out various Pinterest boards I decided to use my TNT bodice pattern with the lined cap sleeves, a full gathered dirndl skirt and the usual side-seam pockets.

I again scooped the neckline the same as the Navy/White check dress but re-drafted the cap sleeves so that they would have a gathered sleeve head. When cutting out the bodice and the front skirt panel I took care to centre up the design. Also as the fabric was very wide I shaped the side seams so that the amount needed to be gathered into the waist seam was slightly reduced.

At first fitting I increased the depth of the body darts on the front bodice and checked the gathers on the sleeve heads. Construction went well, sewing was entirely by machine with the exception of a hand-stitched hem – that took a while as the circumference of the skirt was 180”. I now have a lovely new dress to wear tomorrow when I meet up with an old friend for lunch!

Magic Squares & Exploding Pineapple Patchwork Blocks

Magic Squares Block

Last week I tutored a class on the above. I was shown how to make Magic Squares many years ago by Meg Leach of New Threads, Weyhill Fairground, Hampshire and have made several quilts using this method. Demonstration quilts shown below.

The first project was made using two charm packs “Simply Luscious” plus some yardage from my stash. As the triangles are all on the bias, in order to stabilise the block you need to stitch the magic squares to fabric that is on the straight grain. I used a plain Pink for the sashing with cornerstones in a complimentary fabric cut from a spare fat quarter.

simply luscious

The second project used some Fat Quarters purchased from Sew Simple in Taverham, Norfolk. This project features a print of Chickens and Sunflowers. Chickens – it was meant to be a gift for my sister who was born in the year of The Rooster and also keeps chickens in her back garden. This time, to stabilise those bias edges I cut squares and then set the blocks “on point”. Although the lap quilt was completed back in 2012, it has not yet found it’s way to Catherine! I really need to make another, this time featuring rabbits to be appropriate for me. Another project to go on the “TO DO” list!

CHICKEN magic squares

Meantime, here is how to sew a Magic Square:-

1. Starting with 2 x 5” squares, put right sides together and press. This helps  the       squares to stay together. Stitch with a 1/4” seam allowance ALL AROUND.

2. On the side that is to be the triangles, mark an X.

3. Pull the two pieces of fabric apart and finger crease the top square in the centre along one of the lines. Make a small cut along the one of the marked lines. Insert your scissors and cut along the two lines of the X. Please be sure to cut only the fabric with the marked lines.

4. Gently press the triangles away from the centre block and trim away the “fabric ears”.

Exploding Pineapple Block

This block is basically an extension of a Magic Square, proceed as follows:-

Measure your magic square block and cut another square to match this measurement.

1EP. Lay the squares right side together and repeat step 1 above. Always stitch with the new square uppermost as this is the most accurate. Don’t worry if the square underneath pops out a bit.

2EP Mark an X on the new square and continue as steps 3 and 4 above.

3EP Continue adding pineapple layers until the block is the required size.

4EP Stitch the blocks together using a 1/2” seam to make your quilt.