PS to Paisley Print Dartmouth Top

Although the top looked fine on Dolores the mannequin, when I put it on this morning I noticed that it was too wide at the hips and also a little shorter than I would like.

Quick as a flash – I used my overlocker to reduce the width at the side seams. Then, using some of the remaining fabric, cut a strip the total width of the top at the hips x 8 inches deep. I made a seam to join the strip into a loop. Folding in half and keeping wrong sides together I then had a loop of fabric 4 inches deep.

I carefully pinned the raw edges to the right side of the top at the hemline, taking care to keep all layers even and pinning just above the zig-zag stitching of the hem. Whizzing around with the overlocker resulted in a very neat hem band that extended the length of the top to (as Goldilocks would say) ‘just right’.

Long Sleeved Dartmouth in Red Paisley Print

Whilst browsing the internet in general and eBay in particular I came across a seller named cheapestfabricsuk313. I purchased 2 metres at £4.95 per metre with free post and packing. The fabric that was labelled Stretch Viscose Jersey Large Paisley Print arrived swiftly and was well packaged. It has since been sitting in the ’roundtuit’ pile whilst I concentrated on preparing for sewing workshops and getting Christmas gift-making under way.

I traced off the Dartmouth by Cashmerette pattern

as my original printing has now becoming very tatty. The adjustments to the original pattern remain the same; shortened sleeves, shortened bodice and cut as a 20 at the shoulders, grading out to a 22 at the waist and hips.

The fabric was a joy to sew even though it sometimes had a tendency to curl to the right side. Being in control with plenty of jersey pointed pins ensured that everything went together well. As usual the banding for the neckline went together and attached like a dream.

This time I had lapped the front right side over the left (the same way that females button their clothing) although the instructions DO say to lap left over right. On closer inspection of the picture on the pattern, it does not appear to matter which way the front is lapped.

I have now made several Dartmouth tops and also hacked into a dress. It is definitely one of my all-time favourite patterns.

Testing – New Look 6412 – Tunic Top & Cowl

Finally, I have got around to making the first version of this New Look 6412 pattern that I bought way back in March at the Sewing for Pleasure show, NEC, Birmingham. To make this first ‘wearable toile’ version I chose some winter weight jersey fabric that I bought at the show held at the Bath & West show ground, Shepton Mallet. The fabric has a random print in Autumnal shades, blended with a little of what I think is leopard print. I have no idea of its construction but is probably 100% synthetic. I bought about 4 metres of the fabric at £5.50 per metre so if this worked out I would have a great new tunic top and cowl scarf for just £22.00.

I made view A which is the straightforward tunic top with asymmetrical hemline.

Judging by the measurements on the pattern envelope I cut a size 20 for the shoulders and bust, then graded an additional 1 inch from the waist down to the hem on each side seam.The only other change was to reduce the length of the sleeves by 3 inches as I prefer 7/8 or bracelet length rather than those sleeves that come down over the hand! I used my sewing machine ‘lightning’ stitch to construct the tunic but did not follow the order of construction from the instruction sheet.

First, I added some lightweight fusible interfacing to the shoulders before stitching the front to the back. Then I made up the neck banding, which incidentally, fitted exactly, before setting the sleeves on the flat. Then I stitched the side seams from the hem up to the under arms and along the sleeve seam. Finally I used a twin-needle to stitch the hem of the sleeves and the main body of the tunic. Although the tunic fits me fine, it does look better on ‘Dolores’ the mannequin than it does on me.

Front view New Look 6412

I am unhappy about the ‘dangly’ bits of the hem (especially at the back)and will most probably level it off or make a gentle curve shirt-tail style hemline, similar to my other tee tops.

Rear View New Look 6412

Once the tunic top was completed I quickly cut the fabric for the detachable cowl collar. This looked as though it would be huge – and I was not wrong! The cowl is 68inches long x 18inches wide, sewn into a loop. The instructions advise making French seams and double-turned hems but I did straight seams, pressed open and flat. I will ensure that the raw edges are tucked in when I wear the cowl as I have not hemmed them in any way.

Cowl collar New Look 6412

So, another pattern has been tested. I like the pattern but not the asymmetrical hem in this particular fabric, it may be better in a Ponte Roma. I will try again as a tunic/shift dress (View D) with the cowl to wear with thick tights or leggings as the weather gets colder. This style could also lend itself to some colour blocking, a good vehicle for using up some scraps of jersey fabrics.

McCalls 6754 – still room for improvement

How I wish that I had read the reviews for this pattern on the PatternReview website. Then I would have known to make the dress at least one size smaller than dictated by the measurement chart on the envelope. Also one of the reviewers has shown how to reduce the width of the enormous sleeves that appeared yet again in this my second make of McCalls 6754. These factors have been exacerbated by the fact that the fabric is very fine and has a 4-way stretch. I still count myself as an improving beginner when it comes to sewing knits so on this occasion I will let myself off with a stern reminder to check the amount of stretch in a fabric BEFORE rushing in to cut this style of dress.

I fell in love with the print which is an abstract floral in great Autumnal shades. Bought at the Craft 4 Crafters show at Shepton Mallet, at just £5.50 per metre it was a steal!

I made those changes to the pattern that I discussed in the previous post, i.e. adjusted the back bodice for my sway back, dropped the front bodice at the waistline by 2 inches, raised the front neckline by 1 inch, kept the sleeves 3 inches shorter and the skirt 4 inches longer. However, the weight of all that fabric in the skirt has pulled down the neckline so that it is an almost indecent scoop but at least the back bodice waistline seam now sits at my natural waist!

Again the sleeves were baggy and due to amazing stretch of the fabric, the bodice was quite loose-fitting. However, the dress is extremely comfortable to wear and provided I have a scarf to hide my décolletage, a great Autumn garment.


Basic Tee Top from Remnant

Having finished the McCalls 6754 dress, there was just enough fabric left over for a short sleeve tee top. Using the basic block from Paolina, I made quick work of yet another top for my fast-expanding wardrobe of jersey tee-style tops. Not a lot to say other than this is a dream to wear as the fabric is very soft and super stretchy. Being constructed of entirely synthetic fibres I am not sure how nice it would be to wear in a hot climate but for the Autumn,underneath a cardigan, it is fine. I love the print and am sure to get a lot of wear out of this ‘free’ top!

AMY by STYLE ARC patterns

I received an e-mail advising that there would be Arc Style printed patterns available on special offer at Amazon.UK. I often browse the Arc Style site and decided to check out the sale offerings. I was particularly interested in the Amy design as this has a handkerchief hemline combined with a cowl neckline, two style ideas that I have been wanting to try for some time. The printed pattern arrived yesterday and today I made a ‘wearable toile’ of the design. I used roughly 2 yards of 60 inch wide ‘shimmery’ printed jersey bought in June from Minerva Crafts for £8.97.

It was an interesting experience. The pattern is printed on good quality paper and having checked the measurements, I reduced the sleeve length by 3 inches. Other than that I made no changes to the size 22 pattern.

Seam allowances are only ¼ inch which means there is no wastage but you do need to be careful when clipping the notches. The pattern markings are sparse and in the case of the collar, some are missing. The text on the collar is particularly confusing, as there is no layout diagram I cut two of the pattern piece before realising that only one is required.

The construction information is also very basic. The text for applying the cowl collar to the neckline differs from the diagrams which for a beginner dressmaker would be very confusing. Fortunately, I now consider myself to be of intermediate level when sewing with jersey fabric. I ignored the written instructions and applied the collar in the same way that I would a neckband, i.e., stitched the centre back seam then folded in half wrong sides together and attached to the neckline with the overlocker. The seam allowance was then machined down on the outside with a row of stitches 1/8 inch from the original overlocked seam. The sleeves were inserted flat before the side and sleeve seams were stitched in one go. I did not leave the side seam hem vents as I particularly did not want the sides ‘flapping about’.

I turned up the sleeve hems by 1 inch and stitched with a twin needle. The sleeves are now at 7/8 length which suits me fine. The bodice hem was turned up by 1/2 inch and stitched in place with a twin needle.

Overall the fit is good except that once again by not making a full bust adjustment, the front bodice is pulled up so next time I will add to the front hemline.

A skimpy cowl collar

Having read the pattern reviews I must agree that the cowl neckline is nowhere near as full as the drawing suggests. I shall re-draft a cowl that is closer to the one offered in New Look K6412.

The top will look good over plain Black trousers, ideal for a casual evening out over the Festive Season. I have approximately 1 metre left to make a basic tee top-I might try a hack of the bodice of Butterick 6754 which has the lovely raglan sleeves.

Coordinating Coat Hanger

First thing this morning I went into the sewing room and saw that I had a large rectangular remnant from the recent wrap bodice dress. As this is a jersey fabric I have also noticed that the dresses often fall off the slippery coat hangers. Ah ha! I will make a coordinating coat hanger for my dress.

I now have the construction down to a fine art but Idid not have a co-ordinating zip handy. Hmmm….I know, I will use some KAM snaps on the opening. All went very well until I came to apply the very last component of the snaps. It took three attempts to get a popper to set correctly. But all done now.

Front of Coat hanger

  Reverse showing KAM poppers

Despite the trials and tribulations with the last KAM popper, the coat hanger cover took less than 1 hour to complete. I have hung the dress on its very own coat hanger and am immensely pleased with myself!

Lapped Collar Knit Top – Butterick B6388 Hack

I bought this pattern for a lapped collar top or dress, waterfall waistcoat and elasticated waist trousers back in March at the Sewing for Pleasure Show, NEC Birmingham. Since then it has been tucked into the pile of sewing patterns and had been temporarily forgotten. Then Sian of Kittenish Behaviour mentioned it in her vlog and I made a search for my copy. I had a length (the last off the bolt) of Winter-weight jersey that I bought from Franklins in Salisbury and thought this would be ideal for use as a wearable toile.

Having prepared the pattern and fabric I then discovered that I had too little fabric to make the top (view C). A little bit of ‘hacking’ was required. Out came my collarless version of the Paola top with the shaped hemline, which I traced onto fresh paper. I overlaid the pattern pieces from Butterick B6388 and a new version was born. I had to seam the collar piece rather than lay on the fold and also add cuffs to the sleeves as they were cut short. However, I have managed to get this top out of the 1.3metres of fabric that cost a grand total of £4.50 (I had received a 10% discount).

Construction was simple and straight forward. The top took just over 1½ hours to stitch and that takes into account the fact that this was a first time using the pattern. The only criticism I have to make is that the collar is a little baggy at the back – unless I pull the top forward and down at the front so that the collar then hugs the back of my neck. This may be due to the centre back seam in the collar or the stretch in my fabric. I am sure that I can resolve the issue next time. I do plan to make this style of collar again but think I will transfer the design to the neckline of New Look K6412 version A that has the asymmetrical hemline.

Dartmouth Wrap Top Hack into a Dress

Original Dartmouth Wrap Top Design

I have made Cashmerette’s Dartmouth top several times and every time it has been a success. Since the Spring of this year I have been wanting to make a wrap dress and when this fine dark background jersey floral print came to the top of the stash pile I decided to hack my favourite wrap top pattern.

The fabric came from Abakhan in North Wales and cost the grand sum of £6.38 so even if the dress was a disaster then I would not have wasted yards of expensive material.

Cashmerette have the following to say about the pattern:- Dreaming of a pattern that is casual and chic? Look no further than the Dartmouth Top! This cross-over jersey top comes with two variations—a classic fixed wrap or modern ruched front—and features three sleeve lengths and a gape-free banded neckline. Whether made in a cosy sweater knit or slinky silk jersey, the Dartmouth is the perfect partner for your favourite pair of jeans!

I can certainly vouch for the gape-free banded neckline which is one of my favourite features of the top. I usually make the classic fixed wrap style and this is the style that I used for the hack. I folded the bodice front and backs just below where I calculated the waistline to be and cut across. As I was a little tight on fabric I then cut two widths of the fabric at 24 inches long to make a gathered skirt. Whatever was left, I used to make the sleeves as long as the fabric would allow.

My Dartmouth Wrap Front Dress

Construction was, as usual, straightforward. Stitch the shoulders, add the neck banding, insert the sleeves, sew side seams from the waistline up and along the underarm seam. I stitched the side seams of the skirt panels (no pockets this time) and then ran 2 rows of gathering stitches at the top. The fine jersey was easy to gather to fit the waistline of the bodice. This seam and all other seams were stitched with the overlocker. Now all that remained was the hem on the sleeves and around the skirt. Once again I used the technique of a long basting stitch at the fold line of the hem before using a narrow twin needle to finish. Apart from the cutting out, the dress took just 2½ hours to sew. It is extremely comfortable to wear and fits well although it could do with being a little shorter on the back bodice, a note for next time.

As the fabric has been in the stash pile for nearly a year does this count as stash-busting?

New Blue Dress – McCalls K6754

I am a subscriber to the vlogs produced by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour. Sometime ago Sian raved about this pattern which I purchased on her recommendation. The pattern has been sitting in my stash awaiting fabric inspiration and today that inspiration arrived.


McCalls K6754                                                       Line drawing

The 3 metres of pretty Dusky Blue printed Ponte was purchased from the Textile Centre back in the Spring. Having checked the measurements on the pattern envelope I dived straight in and cut View D in a size XXL. I extended the skirt length by 4 inches and reduced the sleeves by 3 inches. It turned out that the skirt length was just right but the sleeves were now ¾ length – but that’s OK. When I make the dress again, I will simply let down the tuck if I want long sleeves.

I took very little notice of the layout and instructions other than to set the bodice panels on the bias grain. Only later did I realise that this was for if you were making a garment with stripes- in my case it was not necessary! There is a background of sketchy lines in the print and it has worked out well on this occasion.

As overlocked seams are very difficult to unpick, I decided to stitch on my sewing machine using the ‘lightning’ stitch at stitch length 3. I set up so that all the seams would be at the standard 1.5cms and constructed the dress according to the instructions. At first fitting I was concerned that the neckline was coming out quite low, the sleeves were wide and the front waistline was approximately 2 inches too high (I had not done a full bust adjustment!). There are a couple of occasions where I did my own thing. I do not like necklines where you turn the fabric to the wrong side and then stitch down. I much prefer a neckband. I cut a 2 inch wide strip from the width of the fabric and used my TNT method to apply. This brought the neckline up to a more comfortable level but next time I will trace the pattern and raise it by 1 inch.

Close up of Bodice showing Neck band & bias cut of background lines

The front bodice will also need to be adjusted although at present the weight of the skirt is helping to keep it nearer to my natural waist. The back waistline is about 1 inch too low as I had made no adjustment for my sway back! This will be corrected when I trace off the pattern.

For the hems on the sleeves and the (very) full skirt I used a new procedure as demonstrated recently on The Sewing Quarter. Using a long basting stitch I sewed a guideline for where the fabric should be turned. This took away the need for masses of pins as the fabric naturally turns on the stitching line. I set the twin needle and by checking the location of the raw edge by feeling with my finger, I was able to stitch from the right side so that the edge was enclosed in the zig-zag stitches on the reverse.

At final fitting I was still a little unhappy about the bagginess of the upper sleeves. I therefore unpicked the underarm seam and re-stitched, taking in a total of 1 ¼ inches from the upper bodice seam and upper part of the sleeve seam, grading to nothing about 2 inches from the sleeve hem.

McCalls K6754  in Blue Ponte Roma

I am happy with the dress and will definitely be making it again. Next time I will remove the centre back and centre front seams on the bodice, cut on the straight grain, adjust the lengths as required, slim down the sleeves and keep the additional length on the skirt. Depending on fabric availability I may have to use a different skirt pattern as a full circle is very fabric hungry. I think I may have sufficient of the Sunset Roses Ponte in my stash to make version 2 or perhaps the Grey snakeskin print that I bought at the NEC in March. Watch this space!