‘Polly’ Shirt Dress #2

In November last year I made my first ‘Polly’ dress which is a play on the Penny dress by Sew Over It. I love the Penny dress and have made several versions including a hack of the pattern into a blouse. However, there were a couple of things that I wanted to change. I found that the extended yoke/bodice did not sit very well under cardigans and the narrow button band has never had working buttonholes!

Rather than ‘play around’ with the original Sew Over It pattern I decided to adapt my TNT Bodice block into something similar. I wanted to have a bodice that gathered into a yoke, sleeveless with bias bound armholes and a fully-functioning button band.

First I cut a yoke section from the front and back bodices. I overlapped at the shoulder seams to redraw a full yoke pattern. On the bodice front I removed the bust dart and transferred the fullness into gathers into the yoke. I did the same for the body darts on the back bodice before adding seam allowance to the shoulder where the bodice attaches to the new yoke. I checked the measurements of the bodice pieces at the waistline to ensure that the half-circle skirt of the Penny dress would fit.

Close up of Bodice of ‘Polly’ dress #2

You may have a sense of ‘deja vue’ of the print of this version as it is the same as Polly #1 but in a different colourway. This fabric came from New Threads Quilt Shop sale where I picked up 4 metres at just £4/metre – a bargain!! The fabric was duly laundered and has been sitting in my ’roundtuit’ pile for a while. As it was only 42 inches wide it meant that I had to cut the Sew Over It skirt pattern in half, add seam allowance and then cut 4 panels. I was fortunate that the pattern is non-directional. By having side seams this has enabled me to include some concealed side seam pockets using my TNT pattern where the top of the pocket is attached to the waist seam thus preventing it from flapping about..

Seams of the bodice are French seamed but the skirt panels are overlocked. The armholes are finished with self-bias binding (as per Sian of Kittenish Behaviour) and the skirt has a narrow double turned and machine stitched hem. There is a casing for narrow elastic at the waistline so that I can wear the dress with or without a belt.

‘Polly’ dress #2

This dress was long overdue in the making and half-way through I became disenchanted as I kept being interrupted (hence the change from French seams to overlocking!). However, after a concentrated session of a couple of hours it is all finished and goes so well with the Old Gold Jenna Cardigan and wide Navy belt that I can’t wait to wear the combination.

‘Polly’ dress #2 worn with’Jenna’ cardigan

Completed 25th February 2020

Two Paola Tops

In the past I have made many, many Paola Turtle Neck tops. Just lately however, not so many. However, today I busted my stash and made two Paola tops from a 2 metre length of fine viscose jersey that I purchased at least twelve months ago from Girl Charlee.

Paola Top by Named Patterns

I had in my pattern stash a copy of the Paola cut to my size and also another copy cut to my sister’s size. I cut both tops from the length of fabric and still have a fair sized remnant that can be used for neck bindings and cuffs. The alterations to my version were to reduce the sleeve length and also the height of the turtle neck. For Catherine’s version I had to lengthen the body by 3 inches as she is much taller than me!

Catherine and Me Paola Tops

For an hour in the morning and a couple in the afternoon I batch sewed the two tops. I added narrow double cuffs to the sleeves and twin needle stitched the hems on the bodies. A good press and Catherine’s version is now ready to pack and post along with a hand-knitted scarf in complimentary colours. I am wearing my top with a beautiful Amber bead necklace.

Paola top and Amber necklace

I have now completed 13 projects which means that I can allow myself to buy some new fabric. I have ordered some Blush Pink Ponte Roma from Stitchy Bee to make another cropped cardigan and meantime have already cut out my next project which is a cotton print dress. This will be my version of the Penny Dress by Sew Over It, which I shall call ‘Polly’.

Completed 18th February 2020.

Old Gold Ponte Roma ‘Jenna’ Cardigan

I have had the pdf pattern for the Jenna cardigan by Muse patterns on my computer for a long time. Finally, I have printed it off so that I can make a cropped cardigan to go with my full-skirted dresses.

Jenna View A with long sleeves
Jenna line drawings

I copy from the website the description of this versatile pattern:-

Jenna is a fitted, round neck, button-up cardigan with two length options (hip or waist length), three sleeve options (long, 3/4, or short), and optional shoulder yoke detailing.

The waist-length version is designed to go well over skirts and dresses, coming down over waistbands and then letting skirts flare out unimpeded.  A wide hem band harks back to cardigan and jumper styles of the 1940’s and 1950’s.

The hip-length version is great over shift dresses and trousers, and includes a hem band to help it hang well whether worn open or closed.

Variation A has plain shoulders for a classic cardigan style. Variation B gathers gently into curved front shoulder yokes for a subtle 1940’s touch.

Full length and 3/4 length sleeves are finished with cuffs, while short sleeves are finished with a simple hem. Full length straight sleeves come down past the wrist and are designed to be wide enough to sit comfortably over the lower part of your hand.

Mix-and-match length, sleeve, and shoulder options to create up to 12 different styles.

I chose to make View A with long sleeves using just 1.20 metres of 150cms wide Old Gold-coloured Ponte Roma purchased from Girl Charlee Fabrics’ sale a couple of years ago.

I made the size 48 as that seemed to correspond exactly to my measurements. I made the entire cardigan on my sewing machine as the overlocker is still threaded with Black in anticipation of the next dress to be made! Nevertheless the cardigan came together very quickly.

During the construction I made a couple of alterations and have noted some changes for the next iteration. I found the shoulders very wide and have trimmed a good ½ inch from the width and reduced the sleeve cap to correspond. The sleeves were shortened and next time I will slim them down at the wrist and/or make the sleeve cuff narrower so that they fit closer to my wrists.

Like many of the photographs on Pinterest, I have added KAM snaps as fastenings although I very rarely button up my cardigans, the snaps do finish off the button bands nicely.

Jenna cardigan in Old Gold Ponte Roma

The colour of this Ponte Roma coordinates really well with several of my dresses. Now that I know what to expect from this pattern I will order some more fabric in other colours to make cardigans to go with dresses in my wardrobe.

Completed 17th February 2020.

Cobra Corsage Jersey Crepe ‘Gerry’ dress

This is yet another version of my ‘Gerry’ dress which is a hack of the Dartmouth Wrap top by Cashmerette into a dress with a variety of skirt options. Once again I used the half circle skirt from the Penny dress by Sew Over It.

Cobra Corsage on Black Double Crepe

The fabric is from my stash and is another Cobra Corsage print, this time on a fine viscose jersey 4-way-stretch-double-crepe. There were 3 metres in the stash – enough to make my favourite version of ‘Gerry’.

Cutting out was a trial as the fabric is so fine and slippery. It stretches every which way so in an effort to gain control I pinned the layers to my corrugated cardboard cutting out board.

Construction was straightforward as usual. I may have to go back and put some form of stabiliser in the waist seam as the weight of the skirt is stretching out the length of the bodice. The v neckline may end up at my waist and I will definitely need to wear a camisole underneath!

GERRY dress in Cobra Corsage on Black Jersey Crepe

I have just one more length of this fabulous print left in my stash – an ivory background cotton lawn. I will retrieve that later this month and hope there is sufficient to make a long sleeved blouse.

Ivory Background Cobra Corsage in Cotton Lawn

Completed 16th February 2020

Burda 6911 v2 – Spotty

I previously made this top back in the Autumn, using a very lightweight jersey. This time, I used the fabulous quality spotty cotton/spandex jersey from New Threads Quilt Shop. I purchased 1½ metres and have some fair sized remnants left over. This fabric has great stretch and recovery, stitches and presses like a dream.

I made view B of the pattern in the largest size (20) plus some adjustments for my rubenesque figure! The sleeves were shortened to bracelet length and I chopped 3 inches from the length.

Due to the thickness of the jersey I was a little unsure about how the twist would work – but I need not have worried, it came out just fine.

Burda 6911 in Spotty Cotton/Spandex Jersey

This top is great to wear with jeans and skirts. I am sure to get a lot of use over the coming weeks of what remains of Winter and into Spring.

completed 15th February 2020.

‘Mona’ #2 Spotty tee shirt

Mona #2 Spotty Short Sleeved Tee

There is not a lot to say about this particular make. I used my hack of the Moneta dress to make another short sleeved tee shirt. The fabric is a beautiful quality jersey from New Threads Quilt Shop. I bought the very last of the bolt so there was less than 1 metre of fabric. Cutting out and construction took just one hour. The sleeves have a narrow cuff and the hem is stitched with twin needles.

Conclusion: A great tee but next time I will lower the front neck a little more.

Completed 14th February 2020

Revisit a Jean Muir designer Vintage Dress

Many years ago before I was married, I made up a dress using a Jean Muir original designer pattern from a magazine. The fabric used was a fine Light Blue cotton jersey, at that time one of my very few forays into jersey sewing and it was a ‘special’ dress. I remember I wore it twice to attend concerts at The Mayflower theatre in Southampton. The first time was to see the group SKY and second time to watch Wayne Sleep with his dance troupe. That dress is long gone and in any event I am sure that it would no longer fit me.

The thought of the dress remains in my ‘treasured dress’ memory and just by chance I came across a collection of vintage Vogue patterns featuring Jean Muir designs. I decided to do some further research to see if I could locate the original pattern.

Unfortunately I could not find the exact same one (probably because my original came from a sewing magazine) but I did find Vogue 2883 printed back in 1973.

Jean Muir 2883 (C) 1973
Vogue 2883

This is almost the same dress with the exception that mine had long sleeves into a deep buttoned cuff and did not have a zip closure at the back. The pattern that I purchased from a seller on eBay is a size 16 – Bust 38 ins so will need to be drafted up to fit me.

As I am not especially confident about that process, I also purchased a copy of McCalls #M5640 for woven fabrics which has a similar shaped yoke, full short sleeves and gathering front and back.

McCalls #M5640
M5640 line drawings

I believe that I can utilise the yoke and sleeves using a jersey fabric and design a high-waisted band to replicate the Vogue dress. Depending on the amount of fabric that I have in my stash, I may make long sleeves, otherwise the flutter sleeves will look good and balance out the full skirt.

I have a few other projects that need to be completed in the next 4 weeks but after that I full intend to spend some time slow sewing a replacement ‘special dress’.

13th February 2020

Cobra Corsage Pinafore Dress -hack Vogue 8577

During my recent review of fabrics to be used during the Autumn and Winter months I came across this length (2 metres) of Cobra Corsage printed on a stretch cotton base that was bought from Minerva. Originally I had intended to make some slim leg trousers but have still not sorted out the very best pattern to use. I knew that I needed/wanted a new pinafore dress and thought this fabric would be ideal. Hmmm, though which pattern to use?

After a search through my previously used patterns (I did not want to have to make a toile of an as yet unused patterns) I decided to try a repeat of the hack Vogue 8577/Sew Over It (SOI) Penny dress skirt.

Vogue 8577

In truth the only parts of the Vogue 8577 and SOI Penny that are used in my version is the yoke and bodices but even they have been amended. The ‘old favourite’ half circle skirt pattern from the Penny dress by Sew Over It does not normally have a centre front button opening but I added to the centre front seam (originally a fold line). I also added my standard side seam pockets that are attached to the waistline seam to prevent them flapping about!

To cut the dress from this meagre 2 metres was really ‘pushing’ it and I did have to reduce the length and then the width of the skirt panels at their hemline and also cut the front facings in pieces that were then combined to produce the full length required.

It was only when I came to put the part-stitched bodice onto the mannequin that I realised the glaring error in motif placement! When cutting out I had been concerned that I had a good-sized motif placed at the shoulders, just under the yoke seam but overlooked the checking of the other motifs. Now I have the same large, dominant motif on either side of the lower bodice front. Unfortunately even with a generous overlap of the buttonholes and the addition of a wide elasticated belt, these two motifs are rather ‘in your face’. An important lesson to learn when next I use a fabric with such large motifs.

I used some plain Black anti-static lining from New Threads Quilt Shop for the bodice but did not line the skirt as I would always be wearing a slip.

Having managed to construct half of the dress I then fell ill and was unable to continue for nearly two weeks. The dress was on the mannequin – taunting me. However, I finally managed to return to the project. I was fortunate that even after reducing the skirt panels, they still fitted onto the bottom edge of the bodice at the waistline seam.

Having searched through my button stash I selected from a range of painted wooden ones that I had bought in bulk from eBay.

I worked 9 buttonholes, 3 on the bodice and 6 on the skirt, before laying out the dress to try and coordinate the buttons with the pattern around the buttonholes. I think that I have succeeded quite well in this.

Finally, I came to the hem of the skirt. I had to reduce the length of the panels when cutting out and therefore did not want to make a deep hem and lose anymore length. The solution was to have a narrow seam with bias binding (as demonstrated by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour).

Handmade cotton bias binding

I did not have any satin or plain cotton bias tape so decided to make a feature of the binding. I used a fat quarter of some French General quilting cotton to make 1¼ inch wide binding. I stitched to the hem of the skirt using a ¼ inch seam before turning to inside, edge stitching on the machine and finishing with a hand sewn hem of the binding to the skirt. I am really pleased with this finish and will probably use it again whenever I want a narrow hem.

Cobra Corsage Stretch Cotton Pinafore Dress – front
Cobra Corsage Pinafore Dress – back view

So in conclusion, some good points and a couple of disappointments for this project. Finally, although the fabric has a great print design, is lovely to cut, stitch and press it is terrible at picking up lint. I have been forever picking off threads and ‘fluff’ so perhaps it is just as well that I did not make trousers from this fabric.

Completed 11th February 2020

XXL Necessary Clutch Wallet

My ‘journey’ into NCWs continues. I have now made the standard size wallet several times. A couple where I sized up by 25%, one where I sized down to 75% and now for this adventure I sized up to 150% of the original size.

To size up the pattern I simply printed at 150% and then where the pattern exceeded the size of the A4 sheet, added additional paper and ‘winged’ it! By increasing by 50% some simple arithmetic was involved e.g. where the original was 8 inches, the new size was 12 inches etc. To calculate the size of the pattern piece for the card slots was the most complicated. In the end, I drafted a new piece by drawing out the fold and stitching lines based on the formula of 2 ½ inches for the first line, *1¾ inches for the second, 2¼ inches for the third*, repeat from * to * until when folded the finished piece measured 6 inches in length plus seam allowances.

I started the construction by making up a long adjustable strap. I used 30mm nickel hardware for the adjusting rectangle and two nickel swivel hooks.

Next I cut out the main outer pattern piece, taking care to centre up the design and also stitching two pieces together so that the one-way design had the correct orientation once the clutch wallet was made up. I then cut the flap and tried to match up the design. I ensured that the stand of the central motif continued down from the flap to the clutch wallet but sadly did not quite achieve a perfect match for the outer jellies!

I made up the flap and used Peltex stiffening in addition to the heavyweight fusible interfacing. For stitching I used a ‘Jeans’ no.80 needle in the machine. As the flap is so much larger, now was the opportunity to use a different lock. I had ordered this Large Flip Lock

from Emmeline Bags in the USA* and although the size was listed on the website it was still larger than I had anticipated but was an ideal size for this project. Insertion of the lock went really well as I now have a dedicated screwdriver to use on those pesky tiny fixing screws. *For future supplies, I will use Sew Hot based in the UK

Stitching the large card slots fabric pattern piece that had been interfaced with some stiff fusible interfacing was a little like wrestling a bag of cats, but I got there in the end.

Next was the two zipped pockets. I used some spare fabric from my stash of fat quarters and a pair of zips that my father had supplied from when he worked at the Opti-lon zip factory in Kent. Making the zip pockets was fairly simple. As is my usual practice – I added some colourful tassels to the zip pulls. I then had to stitch them into the clutch wallet and finish off with a rectangular shaped box to fix everything in place which is the very last piece of stitching on this project.

The insides of my first XXL-sized Necessary clutch wallet

Lastly, some riveting. I love to apply rivets to my projects and cannot get enough of them!

Front of the XXL NCW

I am delighted with the bag and think that I will take it with me to use as an evening clutch when on my Greek Islands cruise in May this year.

Back of the XXLNCW

Completed 28th January 2020

Abakhan Jersey Dress

This is yet another version of my ‘Gerry’ dress which is a hack of the Dartmouth Wrap top by Cashmerette into a dress with a variety of skirt options. This time I used the half circle skirt from the Penny dress by Sew Over It.

The fabric is a pretty understated geometric design in Mustard on a Navy background. The fabric is a soft and warm jersey from Abakhan that I bought in August last year. Unfortunately I do not know the fibre content, only that it has good width-wise stretch and recovery.

Due to the width of the fabric I cut the skirt in 4 panels and adjusted the waistline to fit the Dartmouth bodice. The sleeves have deep double cuffs that can be folded back if required. The hem of the skirt is stitched with twin-needles. Sewn in part on my sewing machine and partly using the overlocker.

Abakhan Jersey Wrap Bodice Dress
matching Hotter ‘Jewel’ballet flats

The dress is one of my favourites and I have already worn on two occasions. The finishing touches are my usual wide Navy elasticated belt and Navy faux snakeskin ballet flats from Hotter.

Completed 24th January 2020