Kimono Jacket – Simplicity 1318


I shall be tutoring a workshop for this very”on trend” kimono-style jacket on Saturday 30th April, 2016, so this week had to make a sample.

The suggested fabrics on the pattern envelope are silky lightweight woven fabrics with drape such as batiks, charmeuse, cotton types, crepe de chine, double georgette, linen types, silky types and for view C also border prints. For a first make of this pattern I would suggest that one avoids fabric with too much drape and silkiness.

I used two different prints of fabulous linen blend fabric from New Threads, Weyhill Fairground to make view B in a size L which is equivalent to 18-20. The drape on the fabric was just right and I hope that my students may choose something similar.

As the garment is very loose-fitting this time I did not pre-wash the fabric. There will be no problem if the jacket should happen to shrink when first laundered.

The jacket has only 3 main pieces, a back, two fronts and two sleeves. Additionally there is a back neck band & facing, sleeve hem bands and two front bands & facings. I cut the main pieces from the Red print, the facings and bands were cut from the contrast Beige fabric.

I recently re-visited the Hong Kong seam finishing method (the wraparound skirt) and as the jacket is unlined decided to repeat this technique for all the seam allowances plus the hem. It took 4 packs of Light Sage Green bias binding and quite a long time to complete this aspect of the construction but I feel that it was worth it. However, as this method does add considerably to the construction time, I will not be repeating it to the students on Saturday. Most of the seams can be finished with over-locking or zig-zag and for those that are a little more confident they can use French seams to enclose the raw edges.

Apart from the Hong Kong seam finishing the most time-consuming part of the construction was the application of the neck bands and facings. The stitching of a convex curve to a concave curve takes a little time and manipulation so that is something that I will be concentrating on in my tutorial.

Although a kimono-style jacket is not within my usual style profile I think that I will enjoy wearing the jacket with denim jeans and a shell top.


Simplicity 1318 Front View B                                        Back View B


Close Up of Hong Kong Hem & Seam finish

New Look 6340 – 2nd version – Blue/Grey Linen Blend

6340 pattern envelope

Using some fabulous Blue/Grey fine spot linen blend fabric donated by Meg at New Threads, Weyhill Fairground, I have made my second version of this versatile shift/trapeze dress. Due to the high level of linen content, for once, I pre-washed the fabric before deciding which particular version of the dress to cut out. I had intended to make view D with the short sleeves but changing the neckline to a shallow scoop (similar to the Pucci-esque dress previously posted) but unfortunately due to my miscalculation on yardage, there was insufficient fabric. So back to the drawing board and I therefore made the view B.

Again I have lined the dress, this time with a Pale Cream anti-static lining the hem of which I finished with some cream lace from my stash. Alterations/adjustments were simple: Dropped the bust dart by 1/2 inch, made a sway back adjustment and made the facings for the neckline and armholes all-in-one. You may notice the new “Carousel” label in the back neckline facing.

As this is the second time around for making the dress it was very straightforward, with the plain back neckline – no need for a fastening as this neckline is wide enough to go over the head.

This is a very versatile style dress as it can be worn over a polo neck sweater with opaque tights when the weather is cold, a blouse when it is slightly warmer and finally on its own when we eventually have a Summer!

           new look 6340 front view   new look 6340 rear view

              New Look 6340 Front View          New Look 6340 Back View

Wraparound Skirt Workshop

Saturday 16th April at New Threads, Weyhill Fairground found me and three ladies enjoying a  a fun and busy day as we I tackled a wraparound skirt.

We used a pattern that I had drafted from an original grid drawing dated 1976. The fact that this style is still current with the major pattern design companies just goes to show how enduring and versatile this design of skirt can be. Gemma 1, Gemma 2, and Yafit were all enthusiastic about finishing the seam allowances with Hong Kong finish – that is until they realised just how long it takes to apply 7.5 metres of bias binding with 2 rows of stitching. But the finished result looks so good and it was excellent practice for straight machining!

Pictured below is Yafit with a lovely smile BEFORE tackling the Hong Kong finish, together with another picture of my skirt. This was completed after the workshop as I to took the time to bind seam allowances and the hem in a contrasting Red bias binding. I also included side seam pockets which I  find so useful.

Yafit  my wrapover skirt

The fabric came from my stash of Fabricland cotton prints (when I was enjoying a cherry print phase!) and should be very versatile as it goes well with Navy, Red, Green and White. I still have some remnant of the fabric which I think is sufficient to make a sleeveless top or camisole but in the meantime I am finishing off another version of the New Look 6340  trapeze dress in a linen  cotton blend. I also need to make the sample kimono jacket to Simplicity 1318 so had better knuckle down and get stitching.

Carousel Tote Bag Workshop

Bag making Workshop Saturday 9th April, 2016

For the first workshop now that I am back having recovered from hip replacement surgery we tackled the Carousel Tote bag.

There were four ladies, two of which had previously attended one of my workshops (gluttons for punishment?) all eager to get started on making a new tote bag.

Eleanor, Jean, Yvonne and Helen each had a very different fabric from which to make their bag and each fabric seemed to present its own unique challenges.

Helen's bag

Helen’s Bag using thick upholstery fabric

However, we all enjoyed our day cosseted in the warmth of New Threads, Weyhill Fairground whilst the weather threw hailstones and pouring rain outside.

Personally, I had an “Oops!” moment when for the first time, I made an error when cutting the squares for the “Sugar Bag Bottom”. I cut those squares from the TOP of the bag, instead of the bottom. Oh “Rats!” but all is not lost, I simply have a bag with slightly different dimensions. This now measures only 11 inches long x 12 inches wide x 3 inches deep.

Maybe, in view of the BOLD print used (which you may recognise from the Pucci-esque dress), that is not such a bad thing. What do you think?

pucci-esque bag front

My “Oops” Pucci-esque bag

Springtime Tangerine Dream Shirtdress

I thought Spring was on its way so rushed to make up this charming Tangerine printed cotton from New Threads “Sale” bin.

I used a TNT pattern to make a shirtdress. The bodice is a hack from McCalls 6438 using the shawl collar design but with changes to the sleeves. The originals are 2-part sleeves with a shaped hem which I have converted to a classic sleeve pattern but incorporated the shaping to the sleeve hem to reflect the shaping of the rever on the collar.

I used two widths of the fabric to provide for a nice full skirt which is slightly tapered to reduce fullness at the waist seam and included my standard side-seam pockets. The waistline is elasticated with ¼ inch elastic.

I have sufficient fabric to send away to Harlequin for them to make a co-ordinating belt but meantime I shall wear the dress with the “gold” plaited belt shown in the photograph.

I said at the beginning of this post that I thought Spring was on its way – yesterday we were treated to several hailstorms so perhaps it will be a few more weeks before this Springtime dress gets its airing!

  tangerine dream 02

Purple Pucci-esque Print Pinafore – New Look 6340

Taschen_Pucci printpucci print 1pucci print 2

Don Emilio Pucci, Marchese di Barsento (20 November 1914 – 29 November 1992) was a Florentine Italian fashion designer and politician. He and his eponymous company are synonymous with geometric prints in a kaleidoscope of colours. His designs came to wide attention in 1947, and I seem to remember a “revival” in the 1960’s which is where I came in.

6340 pattern envelope

As the fabric was quite lightweight I added a lining of fine cotton. This is attached to the outer fabric at the neckline and armholes only and otherwise is quite separate. I drafted an all-in-one facing for the neckline and armholes as this is what I prefer for sleeveless garments. I also dropped the bust dart by 1 inch. As I was making up the dress, at first fitting I discovered that I could put the dress on without the short vent with button and loop closure at the rear neckline so this was closed up. At this stage I also added the tie belts to the side seams together with in-seam pockets. The neckline and hem on the outer garment are finished with my favourite twin needle stitching. The lining hem is overlocked and I will be adding some lace trim to finish that. I have cut out and prepared the patch pockets but in the light of the “busyness” of the print have not attached them to the dress.

new look 6340 sleeveless front  6340 back viewwith tie belt 6340 with cardigan

The colours in the print design are ideal to co-ordinate with both my Lands End cardigan (pictured above) and Edinburgh Woollen Mill polo neck sweater.

Red Ponte Jersey Top – See & Sew B6272

pattern envelope

After the brief interruption to my sewing “to do” list (making the bag to Simplicity 2396) I had some fabric left over from making a waterfall fronted waistcoat for a friend’s birthday – what could I make with this remnant? I sifted through my stack of recently purchased patterns and came across See & Sew B6272. This pattern offers 2 loose-fitting knit tops and a pair of straight-legged trousers. The tunic top view A looked a possibility so I checked the measurements of the pattern against my personal “dimensions” and decided that as this project was loose-fitting and to be sewn with a fairly “relaxed” knit, a size 18 should be fine. As I know that I have not been blessed with long arms, I reduced the length of the sleeves by 4 inches and the overall length of the tunic, also by 4 inches. As the lower back pattern piece is placed on the bias, the reduction in length meant that I had just sufficient to make the tunic from my remnant of fabric.

The construction was straightforward and within a very short space of timeI had a new tunic top. I stitched all the seams with the 3-thread overlocker plus a short straight stitch on the sewing machine. The shoulder seams were stabilised with a piece of selvedge fabric. The neckline and sleeve hems were finished with my favourite twin needle. I will be making the top again but will reduce the overall sleeve length by just 2 inches rather than 4. Other than that no further alterations are required.

6272 red ponte jersey top front view    6272 red ponte jersey top reverse

Now where did I store the rest of my stash of jersey fabrics?

A Rapid Turnaround Bag – Simplicity 2396

pattern envelope

On Thursday I was chatting to Meg when she enquired if I would be able to make up a bag to demonstrate some of the beautiful linen/cotton blend fabrics that are available at New Threads. The bag would need to be completed and ready to take to the NEC, Birmingham in time for the show the following week. As I did not have any particular sewing projects waiting with bated breath to be made, I agreed to “slot in” a bag. Later in the morning I drove up to New Threads (one day I shall be fit enough to walk there and back!) and collected the fabric, thread and a button. I was all set to stitch.


            Outer Fabric                           Lining Fabric

I had the pattern in my stash but had never got around to stitching up any of the bags. Now was my chance to test drive the pattern. I chose view A and selected the appropriate pattern pieces from the envelope. The machine was threaded and a bobbin wound, with fusible interfacing and wadding to hand, off I went.

The bag construction was simple and straightforward. There were no surprises and the bag went together quickly and well. Padded out with bubble wrap, I photographed the completed bag and sent copies by e-mail to Meg later in the afternoon. The bag was delivered on Friday after I had attended the Sprat & Winkle House Group and has been much admired since.



Siam Print Carousel Tote Bag (no. 7)

Although I have not posted much on the blog in the past few days, that does not mean that I have not been sewing. I just have not got a round to working on the internet. 

I have been refining the Carousel Tote bag and preparing to teach a workshop at New Threads, Weyhill Fairground in April. The preparation has been time-consuming as this time around I needed to make a demonstration bag which would be photographed at every stage and those photos then inserted into the text of a workbook which will accompany the session.

To make the “statement” bag, I ordered 1 metre of “Siam”, an oriental-style cotton print in shades of Light Brown from Fabricland with accents in Cerise Pink and Turquoise. I knew that I had a long length of Beige polka dot cotton in my stash and I would use this for the complimentary lining.

The picture on the Fabricland website was a true reflection of the print and as soon as the fabric arrived I was itching to get on with the project.

The construction of the bag was fairly straightforward. I used a magnetic snap closure on the flap which is decorated with shisha mirrors and piped in a Dark Red satin piping. I used some narrow brass loops for the strap connections and then made some narrow handles which were exactly the right dimensions to slip through the loops.


The photography and writing of the instructions took a total of one week by working in blocks of about an hour per day. Lots of proof reading and then finally printing and binding the copies. One for my friend in Chiswick, another for Meg at New Threads and a spare for any ladies that cannot make the workshop but would still like to make the bag.

Next job is preparation for the Wraparound Skirt workshop, but before then I have the overlocker threaded up with Red thread so will “run up” a Top to pattern See & Sew B6272 in Red Ponte Jersey.

Red Tulip Blouse – OOP McCalls 2797

blouse oop mccalls 2797

Prior to making the two sample bags for the next workshop, I had cut out two Blouses. The first was completed (Swallow blouse posted earlier) but the second was put on the “roundtuit” pile. I strongly dislike having to do this as in the past I have found that some things never make it out of the pile. I was determined it would not happen to this blouse.

The fabric was all that I had left after making the weekender bag, cosmetics bag, barrel bag and tote bag – just enough for a short sleeve blouse.

I used my TNT McCalls 2797 pattern which is now Out of Print. Fortunately I have been able to buy another copy through as my original is falling to pieces.

The only changes I made to the pattern were to round off the corners of the collar and rever. I also added a patch pocket to the right front bodice as I always need somewhere to tuck a handkerchief.

I am pleased with the finished blouse which was stitched in record time despite spending extra minutes to double top-stitch the collar, rever, pocket, sleeve hems and also top-stitch the princess seam lines on the front bodice.