A long-time-coming Alteration

As regular readers of my blog will know, I dislike making alterations. I would much rather dispose of the offending garment and start again afresh.

However, last year I made this charming Daisy-printed denim dress which I wore just once before I lost weight and it became too big. Since then the dress has been hanging in my ’roundtoit’ space awaiting attention.

‘Mandy’ Daisy-printed denim dress

Assisted by a good friend, one day I put the dress on inside out and my friend kindly pinned in at the side and centre back seams.

An eternity later I got around to unpicking the waistline seam and tacking the pinned alterations.

Right Side seam alteration
Left side seam alteration

Another eternity later I finally installed the correct colour thread on my sewing machine and overlocker so that the alterations are now complete.

One thing that I have noticed is that now I do not have such an impressive bust, (having gone down a cup size) the scoop neckline is a little more revealing than I would like. I have to wear the dress with a lace-trimmed camisole underneath so that I don’t frighten the horses!

Improv piecing & quilting a la Nick Ball

Whilst attending the Sewcial Retreat in Oxford last month we were fortunate to have Nick Ball as one of the tutors. The session was listed as ‘Improv Piecing’ which at first did not particularly inspire me. However, Nick showed us a unique method of piecing using rectangles and triangles followed by a very simple method of curved piecing and I was immediately hooked!

I made a very simple quilted case for my Hudl tablet which incorporates both techniques that Nick demonstrated. I am delighted with the result.

Hudl case – closed
Hudl case – open
Hudl case – reverse

This method will be a great way for me to use up lots of small scraps and I plan to make a lap quilt very soon.

Floral Print Dress for Spring

Ditsy Spring Floral Print Cotton

At the Sewcial Retreat I started cutting out and stitching the bodice of yet another sleeveless shirt dress. However, this one would be a little different!

The fabric is a pretty ditsy floral printed cotton from Fabricland in Salisbury. I bought 4 metres last Summer so it has been loitering in my stash for a comparatively short time! I needed all the 4 metres as this time I wanted to have a full circle skirt and for this I used the skirt pattern from ‘The Betty dress’ from Sew Over It.

The bodice has yet another shaped shawl collar from the OOP McCalls 6438 dress pattern.

The dress buttons just to the waist seam of the bodice as I had only 5 of the pretty spotty buttons. Due to shortage of fabric, the bias binding for the armholes was cut from several pieces and joined.

Once the bodice had been completed, I checked the width at the waistline to ensure that the skirt panels would measure up the same. I cut the skirt in 4 panels and included my TNT side seam pockets. Due to the fact that I was fast running out of fabric, the pocket linings are cut from White polyester/cotton from my stash. Only the back of the pockets are cut from the ditsy floral print.

Spring floral dress worn with plaited leather belt
Spring floral dress worn with Red cardigan by Lisa Comfort

I am pleased with the dress which looks best worn with a Tan plaited leather belt and goes very well with my Red cardigan from Lisa Comfort.

However, for some unknown reason I am not ‘in love’ with the dress and so far although it has been completed for 2 weeks, I have still not worn it. Hopefully, as I am now onto making another dress using a pretty turquoise and white print fabric, I will get around to wearing the ditsy floral one soon.

An adventure with Double Gauze

When visiting Franklins in Salisbury for my monthly Patchwork & Quilting Club class, I was browsing their fabrics when I came across a selection of Double Gauze in pretty colours. I could not resist and purchased 2 metres (£9.99 per metre) of the Soft pink printed with white outline of Ginkgo leaves.

Close-up of leaves of Ginkgo biloba

I thought this fabric would be ideal for a Spring/Summer blouse.

Double Gauze from Franklins, Salisbury

I overlocked the raw edges and then packed laundered the fabric together with my TNT bodice pattern to take to the Sewcial Retreat. Cutting out was ‘interesting’ as I had to use 2 tables covered with cloth. Fortunately later I managed to find 2 large cutting mats to protect the cloth and avoid cutting that in addition to the double gauze.

I used a hack of the collar from an old Out Of Print dress pattern McCalls 6438.

The width and length of the bodice were cut ‘by eye’ without a pattern to make a loose-fitting bodice. Likewise, the sleeves were cut in a fairly ‘random’ way, using as much of the remaining length of fabric as possible. I ended up with ¾ length sleeves which I set into the armholes with some gentle gathers at the sleeve head.

The sleeves also turned out very wide at the hem but I prefer a more tailored look. I made some cuffs by cutting two pieces 5 inches wide x the length that would fit neatly around my forearm. The cuffs were stitched into a circle, the hem of the sleeves was then gathered into the cuffs with a non-gathered area either side of the sleeve seam. I am particularly pleased with the way that the sleeves have turned out.

Soft Pink Double Gauze 3/4 sleeved Blouse

McCalls 2797 Short-sleeve Blouse

Just before I headed off on my Sewcial Retreat I checked my wardrobe for a lightweight blouse suitable to wear under the Black Corduroy Applique Pinafore Dress.

Applique Pinafore Dress

As I am a lover of exuberant prints, I was unable to find a plain(ish) blouse – all my ‘memade’ tops tend to be very colourful and would clash with the applique.

There was nothing for it but to make a new blouse using some fine cotton ‘low volume’ print that I purchased way back in 2015 when holidaying in Hunstanton, Norfolk. The fabric was originally intended for a ‘Block of the Month’ quilt but that never even got started!

McCalls 2797

I used my TNT McCalls 2797 pattern with a lengthened bodice and shaped hem. I also rounded the corners of the collar and facings. The pattern has princess seams in front and back making it easy to adapt for a full bust. If I make the pattern again, I must remember to reduce the size of the collar which currently is reminiscent of the 70’s!

Low volume printed cotton McCalls 2797

As I have made the pattern several times before, the construction was straightforward and within a few hours I had a completed blouse. This is not the most exciting garment that I have ever made but it is fit for the purpose of wearing under the pinafore dress. Now I can go on and make something a little more interesting!

Joni Dress # 6

Joni Dress by Tilly and the Buttons
Joni Dress – line drawing

I fancied making a new dress to wear for one of the evenings of the Sewcial Retreat in Oxford that I am attending tomorrow. I have previously made the Joni dress a mere 5 times. One of those versions was a hack into a top and no. 4 was a ‘fail’.

This time I revisited the tutorial by Sheona of Sewisfaction and decided that I would try her method for the neck binding and make up the Joni in a velvet fabric. I had just the right fabric, purchased recently from The Textile Centre. It was described thus:

Gothic Ice Rose Velvet Scuba type Jersey

This is a heavy-weight bonded polyester spandex soft, silky, ice velvet dress fabric with a really pretty hazy rose print in silver grey against a pretty wine-coloured background. This fabric has two layers of fabric, an ice spandex velvet top and an FTY poly/jersey underside which give the effect of a scuba velvet. It has a soft tactile hand feel and a really soft drape. It has most of its stretch in the width, although it does have a tighter stretch to the length. Great for evening dresses, tops, skirts, jackets, culottes, even trousers and shorts, etc. Machine Wash on a 40° temp, hang dry, iron on reverse if needed. This is a relatively easy fabric for newcomers to sewing, although it is quite a slippery fabric to work with. Width: 145 cms.”

The fabric was exactly as described. Stitched up like a dream. However, once again I struggled with the neckline binding. I followed Sheona’s instructions with one small change. Due to the thickness of the fabric I did not use the neck binding folded in half along its length. I simply cut the strip in half (lengthwise), stitched right sides together, folded to the inside and top stitched in place. It does not matter that there is a raw edge inside the neckline as this fabric does not fray.

So, apart from some time wasted unpicking and re-stitching the neck binding, the construction was very straightforward. I cut the sleeves at ¾ and used double-sided fusible tape to turn up the hem before twin-needle top stitching in place. The hem of the skirt has been left raw. I may twin-needle top stitch at a later date, but for now it is fine.

Result is a lovely dress, just right to wear for dinner. Now I simply have to decide which evening to use it.

Sashiko & Dumpling

I spent a lovely morning yesterday at the Patchwork & Quilting class, Franklins in Salisbury. We combined my Dumpling pouch with some Sashiko stitching.

I used the Shippou Seven Treasures  template on some plain Navy cotton from my stash. The stitching was done with White Perle thread. I used some pretty ditsy floral print with a Navy background for the lining and fusible wadding for the filler. The size 5 zip also in Navy has two zip pulls.

Sashiko & Dumpling Pouch

Although my pouch is not perfect, I am very pleased with the result. Hand stitching and me are not usually found in the same place so ‘hats off’ to Emma for the instruction and inspiration.

Border Print Jersey Paolina Top

I appeared to be on a roll when I made the Plantain top by Deer and Doe. Whilst the overlocker and sewing machine were set up with Charcoal thread and jersey needles, I continued and made this unusual print fabric into a ‘Paolina’ top.

The fabric was a ‘steal’ from a new supplier, ‘miss-clio’, that I discovered whilst watching a vlog (sorry, can’t remember whose). The polyester(?) jersey was listed as 62 inches wide at the ‘giveaway’ price of £2.99/metre an as I was a little unsure of the quality at that price, ordered just 1 metre. The fabric is indeed as it was described, ‘beautiful’.

Border print Polyester(?) Jersey

Due to the extra width of the fabric I was able to cut a ¾ sleeved Paolina tee top with just enough remaining for the neckband and a few odd-shaped scraps. The ‘Paolina’ is my hack from the Paola turtle neck top by ‘Named’.

Paola Turtle Neck by ‘Named’

I have adjusted the neckline to a shallow scoop with neckband and added a shaped hem to the extended length of the bodice front and back. I have already made several versions – this hack now falls into the TNT category.

The fabric was a little troublesome in that it insisted on curling at the edges but with plenty of fine jersey pins I managed to get it under control. I used the bold coloured-abstract pattern for the front and then the more restrained stripes for the back. The sleeves were cut from whatever I had left. The top was constructed on the overlocker but with some top stitching on the neckband and twin needle stitching at the hems completed on the sewing machine.

Paolina Front

Paolina Reverse

This top is a delight to wear being very light, drapey and comfortable. I may well re-visit miss-clio to check if she has any more similar fabrics on sale.

Plantain Tunic + Detachable Cowl

I have been cruising the internet and in particular, made yet another visit to The Textile Centre website. This is fatal as I simply cannot resist their fabrics!

This time I fell in love with a Striped Native American Inspired Soft Cloqué Jersey Dress Fabric Material (Blue)£4.49 per metre. This is a light-weight ponte type jersey with a cloqué effect pattern. According to Wikipedia: cloqué is a cloth with a raised woven pattern and a puckered or quilted look. The surface is made up of small irregularly raised figures formed by the woven structure). The composition is Polyester/Viscose/Elastane. I ordered 2 metres (Width: 145cm) and had in mind to make the Plantain tunic by Deer & Doe.


Striped Native American Inspired Soft Cloqué Jersey

Although the stripes of the fabric run from selvedge to selvedge I thought it best to have the stripes vertical. This meant that I lost the advantage of the stretch of the fabric but as the Plantain is a loose-fit did not think there would be a problem – and I was right.

Plantain by Deer & Doe

The fabric is an absolute dream to sew! It has a good drape, is soft to the touch and even has a two-way stretch although as I cut down the fabric rather than across I could not take advantage of this. The fabric has a smooth soft feel on the reverse and is machine washable on a 40° temperature.

This finished tunic is in fact a hack of the Plantain top. I used the pattern as a base for some tunic tops that I made last year and knew that I liked the style and fit of the extended length and slightly re-shaped neckline.

I extended the length by 4 inches, raised the neckline by a couple of inches, added deep side slits of 12 inches, added cuffs to the sleeves and adjusted the front hemline slightly for a full bust. I used the percentage of 85% of the neckline to calculate the length of the neckband and this worked out fine. I made a detachable cowl collar (the full width of the fabric x 19 inches) which fits neatly over the scoop neckline to be worn when I need some warmth around my neck and is easily removed when I have a hot flush!

Detachable Cowl collar
Tunic with neckband finish
Tunic with detachable Cowl in place

The tunic goes well with leggings and denim jeans. I have worn the top several times now and received many compliments. I love the fabric so much that I have ordered the last 5 metres and hope to make a dress and another top. Watch this space.

Spring is on the way

Recently we have enjoyed a few days of Spring-like weather and that prompted me to change the quilts on my husband’s grand piano. The ‘Winter Chills’ quilt has been returned to storage and replaced by this colourful quilt made using two jelly rolls plus remnants from my fabric stash. The quilt was made on one of the Rookwood Retreat Days a couple of years ago and is a nice reminder of a most enjoyable time spent with fellow patchwork and quilters.

The Lilac-coloured ‘highlight’ squares (snowballing) at the corner of each block were suggested by Meg at New Threads Quilt Shop whilst the other colours remind me of all the beautiful Spring flowers that have been emerging over the past few weeks. Snowdrops, Aconites, Crocus, Hellebore, Daffodils, Iris and a few Pretty Polyanthus.

Although the weather today is blowing a gale and upping the wind chill factor, indoors we are nice and snug with the sunshine reminding us of the warmer days to come.

Spring Fever!