KITTY Shirtdress – a new style of bodice

Those of you who have been following my blog will know how much I like the Kwik Sew bolero jacket no. K3736 so I thought I would try to transfer that collar style to a dress.

Original Kwik Sew K3736 pattern

Pattern drafting: I retrieved my basic bodice block which I then copied onto pattern paper (purchased from Morplan). With some ‘finessing’ I then traced off the style line of the collar from K3736 onto the front bodice for a shirtdress. I used my standard short/cap sleeve pattern and slightly adapted the back bodice so that the shoulders would line up with the revised front bodice. I measured the width of each bodice and ensured that the waistline of that old favourite, the skirt from Betty by Sew Over It would also fit this new button-front bodice.

Materials: I used approximately 3¼ yards of 60 inch wide Blue & White check print poplin that I bought sometime earlier this year from Franklins in Salisbury. The collar and front facing were interfaced with medium-weight fusible Vilene ®. There are 4 plain Blue fish-eye  buttons for the front fastening that came from my button stash.

Construction: I stitched the bust and body darts in front and back bodice pieces. Applied a back neckline facing with my maker’s label prior to stay stitching the neckline of the back bodice. I stay stitched the neckline and shoulder line of the collar on the front bodice. Applied fusible interfcacing to collar/facing pieces. Repeated the stay stitching for the collar/front facing pieces. Attached the collar before stitching the side seams and inserting the fully-self-lined short sleeves. All major seams were pressed and overlocked before proceeding to the next step. Checked the fit and marked up the buttonholes. Stitched the buttonholes and then attached buttons to correspond. Stitched the side seams of the skirt and overlocked the hemline. Attached the skirt to the bodice with straight stitch and then overlocked all seam allowances together. Pressed the skirt up towards the bodice. Machine-stitched a ½inch hem.

Gave the dress a final press and dressed ‘Dolores’ (the mannequin) ready for photography!


Final analysis: The dress has a distinctive ‘vintage’ feel, especially as the fabric recalls my old primary school dresses (tho’ they had White collar and cuffs on the sleeves).  I am very pleased with the fit of this bodice and will definitely be making again. Next step is to make a co-ordinating belt. Since completing the dress I have ‘tweaked’ the pattern slightly by extending the shoulders and re-drawing the armsyces front and back. This style of bodice and collar is very versatile as it lends itself to a variety of enhancements; top stitching, embroidery, addition of braid, ric-rac trim or lace, addition of patch pocket(s). In another version the skirt could be made as a full gathered dirndl instead of the circle. For the future I intend to extend the length of the bodice so that I can make a blouse version with a shaped hem to wear over trousers. Watch this space.

Getting Ahead with a Sun Hat by Lorenna Buck

At a recent meeting of Sprat & Winkle Quilters one of the members did a ‘Show and Tell’ of a sun hat that she had made to take on a school outing. That evening Izzy sent me a link to obtain the free pattern for this LORENNA BUCK Sun hat which I have made up in Navy linen-look with a Navy pin spot lining.

The Navy linen-look came from Franklins of Salisbury and the spot lining was a remnant in my stash.

This is a very simple make and is designed to fit a 22 inch circumference head comfortably. On me it is a little too generous so if I make it again I will adjust the seam allowances slightly in order to reduce the size. I will also make the brim a little shallower. However, for the present this hat is ideal for working (lazing in a sun lounger!) in the garden.

In respect of construction the only change I made was to use two layers of heavyweight fusible Vilene® rather than pellon craft 808 for the brim. I also stitched a continuous spiral of top-stitching around the brim for approximately 2½ inches instead of the single row suggested in the instructions.

Having modelled the hat for my husband he prefers what was intended to be the lining.

As all the seams are top-stitched in co-ordinating thread there is very little to show which is the right way out and therefore the sun hat is now reversible. Two hats for the price of one!

A Quick Trip thru’ the Jungle – The Paoletty Hack

Having spent rather a long time on the Appliqued Denim jacket I felt in need of a quick fix. A jersey project would answer and by combining the bodice of Paola with the skirt of Betty I ended up with Paoletty!

The fabric is a Viscose Jersey print from Minerva Crafts bought back in June. On receipt it was laundered and set aside in the “roundtuit” pile.

To hack the patterns I re-printed the Paola turtle neck top. I cut across the sleeves to make them just shy of my elbows. For the bodice seam I measured down 1¼ inches from the waistline and cut across. For a scoop neckline, I cut the shape freehand for the front and then measured the new shoulder width. I copied that width to the back bodice and cut another freehand scoop for the back neckline. For the skirt I measured and noted the width of each bodice piece. I added approximately 2 inches to the width of each skirt pattern piece of the Betty dress so that they would match up.

Construction: I first stitched the shoulder seams using a stabiliser in the form of a piece of selvedge of the leaf print jersey fabric. For the neckband I cut a piece 2 inches wide by the width of the fabric, folded in half wrong sides together and gently pressed the fold. Starting at the centre back with right sides together I pinned the neckband to the neckline, gently stretching the neckband as I pinned. When I got back to the starting point I stitched a ½ inch joining seam. Using a regular straight stitch I machine basted the neckband to the neckline before using the 4-thread overlocker to complete. When overlocking the neckband I ensure that I watch the distance from the fold to the left edge of the machine foot and this means that the depth of the neckband remains consistent.

Next I set in the sleeves using the flat method and an overlocked seam.

Prior to attaching the skirt panels to the bodice, I measured each bodice piece and cut a length of ½ inch wide clear elastic to match. The elastic was stitched to the top of each skirt panel using the twin needle. Each skirt panel was attached to its corresponding bodice using an overlocked seam. The seam was pressed towards the bodice.

Nearly finished… The side seams were overlocked from hem of the skirt, up the bodice and along the underarm of each sleeve.

I pressed up ½ inch hem on each sleeve and all around the skirt before stitching with a wide set twin needle, stitch length 4.

Time to construct the dress was approximately 2 hours – a quick fix trip thru’ the jungle!

Appliqued Denim Jacket – Subtle it is not!

Be warned! This post is text and picture heavy.

Kwik Sew 3736 is fast becoming one of my favourite patterns. I have long been hankering for a distinctive denim jacket and the current trend for boho-style embroidered garments has prompted me to get stitching. Using some of the vintage Jan Constantine appliqued cushions as inspiration I spent a pleasant morning sketching and then cutting patterns for the flowers, bow and butterflies that would adorn the back of the jacket.


Sketched ideas

templates for motifs

Using some bold-coloured felts bought in a pack from The Range I then auditioned a variety of styles and placement of motifs.


I drew out a large heart shape for the back of the jacket and ‘toyed’ with various designs to fill it (so I could make a statement as I left a room!). I finally settled on a favourite and proceeded with constructing the jacket.

First step was to cut out the main pattern pieces and where they were to be embroidered, I used a fusible interfacing to add stability to the denim which had a slight stretch in its composition. I transferred the heart outline first and stitched this with a Red thread using a decorative stitch on my Brother 4000D sewing/embroidery machine.

Next I placed the various motifs and chalked in the design lines for the ‘stems’ of the flowers. A couple of stitching sessions later saw the back design completed, but like a Chinese meal – I still wanted more! I decided to add a motif to each lapel and at the hem of each sleeve – this is probably overkill but there again, just because I am old does not mean that I cannot enjoy a flight of fancy now and again.


sleeve hems



Having completed the applique I then made up the outer jacket. Now was time to find some fabric to use for the lining…. I checked out my stash and in the first box came across a length of this fabulous colourful cotton printed of a variety of fruit in bright colours. It co-ordinated so well with the colours of the applique that it was obviously the right choice for the lining.

colourful lining fabric

Although the Kwik Sew pattern does not include a lining for the sleeves, I drafted my own pattern when making the previous versions and was pleased to find that I had sufficient of the printed cotton to make the entire lining in this fabric. Again, although not included in the Kwik Sew pattern, I added a pleat at the centre back which was basted top and bottom but provides extra ease for movement across the shoulders.

Once the lining was completed but before stitching to the outer jacket, I had a final fitting. I decided to use some thin shoulder pads – just to lift the shoulder line and give a more structured silhouette. The lining and outer were sewn together around the outside leaving a gap for turning at the centre back hemline. A good press and lots of clipping and layering of seam allowances meant that once the jacket was turned right side out, the next pressing produced a good finish.


Lining front and back

Finishing: I used a prick stitch to join the seam allowances along the collar and lining seam to the underside of the collar. I used an ‘anchor’ stitch for the sleeve heads to the shoulder pads and also at the underarm points. The ‘turning gap’ at the centre back hemline was slip stitched closed. The sleeve lining hems were slip-stitched to the sleeve facings.


This jacket was the first thing I made having recovered from 10 days of illness, it has cheered me up so much that I think it should be called ‘The Tiramisu Jacket’!

Black linen-look Bolero Jacket – KWIK SEW K3736


Here is the finished ensemble and I am so pleased with the results. Having previously made KWIK SEW K3736 in a Violet-coloured fabric as a wearable toile/muslin, I now knew exactly what changes I wanted to make.

The completed ensemble

Construction notes.

Materials used: 1.75 yards x 60 inch wide Black linen-look fabric outer shell, 1.75 yards x 42 inch wide Lilac satin for lining, crisp calico for interfacing collar, front facings and sleeve hem facings, scrap cotton floral print for piping between facing and lining.

Again I cut the Xlarge size which is to fit a 43-45 inch bust. This time I reduced the shoulder width by 1 inch and added ½ inch to the bust point on the princess seam. As regards length, I added 1 inch to the back bodice and re-drew the curve on the two front bodice pieces to give more ‘coverage’ as I felt that the original design lines were that little bit too short.

The final version of the jacket just hits the waistline seam of the dress at the back and provides just the right amount of coverage at the front. The lapels are a great opportunity for the placement of a brooch (of which I have many!). The ¾ length sleeves have a wide facing which was interfaced and this time I omitted the vent.


Apart from wearing the jacket with this dress, I can foresee that I will get a lot of wear from this garment in the Autumn and Winter to.

Blooming Birthday Dress

Although I had planned to make the Black linen-look bolero jacket today – ready for the family wedding on Sunday, this dress sneaked in under the radar. I like to have a new dress to wear on my birthday which has also snuck up on me – it’s on Monday!!

Chloe’s Closet by Moda

I had 3.5 metres of this pretty print ‘Chloe’s Closet’ by Moda ® ready laundered and waiting in my stash so it was straight into cutting out and stitching.

I used the bodice pattern with the princess seamed front and a darted back (same as the Yellow dress posted on 18th June) and again the 4-gore circle skirt from the Betty dress by Sew Over It. The centre back lapped zip is from a length of continuous zip and is a machined insertion. The cap sleeves are lined with plain White poly/cotton and the hem is overlocked, turned up by 1 cm and machined in place.

My blooming birthday dress

This dress is a very quick make and has not really interrupted my plans by more than a few hours, so… on with the Bolero jacket!

Bordering on Indecision – Wedding Guest Dress

Bordering – see what I did there? I am now working on the border print fabric for my dress to wear as a guest to the family wedding on July 2nd.

Decisions, decisions. The problematic (in a good way) thing about making your own clothes is all the decisions that have to be made…. which bodice style shall I use, which style of sleeve, neckline, skirt?

Having settled a few style decisions in respect of bodice, neckline, sleeves and skirt I still had to decide on placement of the border print. Should I make the entire bodice in the plain central part of the fabric design? Should I have the border around the shoulders of the bodice pointing down towards the waist? Or, should I have the border placed on the waistline, pointing up towards the shoulders? The design on this border is asymmetric – should I place longer parts of the design central to the bodice or equidistant from the centre front?

To begin with I cut and stitched darts in the front bodice with the border around the shoulders with the longer design lines descending equidistant from the centre front. Definitely not the best decision.

first draft of bodice front

I re-cut the front bodice with the main motif centrally placed – so much better. I also took this opportunity to ‘finesse’ the body darts so that the midriff section is more fitted to my contours. 

much better design placement

Now the decision had been made for me with regards to the border placement on the skirt. It would be placed at the hem with the design ascending towards the waist. I would place the main motif in the centre front to co-ordinate with the bodice design placement. This means that the waistline area is in the plain White part of the design – maybe a good idea to make a coordinating belt….. let’s see how I get on.

Although I initially decided to make the skirt with gathers, when it came to it I thought it would look better with soft unpressed pleats. I pinned, tacked and machine-basted the pleated skirt to the bodice – hmmm- not sure. I unpicked the pleats and replaced with gathers. Tacked in place it looks so much better, especially when I tried it on with a full can-can petticoat underneath – it really showcases the lovely border design.

Having machine stitched the skirt to the bodice, I finished the seam with the overlocker and moved on to inserting the zip into the centre back seam. I had made a point of leaving a 1 inch seam allowance on the back bodice and skirt to give me plenty of room for a lapped zip insertion. I completed the sewing of the skirt seam and basted the zip opening with a stitch length of 5. I used a plain White zip from my stash of continuous zips and cut a length of 20 inches. The right hand side of the zip was machined in place and the left hand side machine basted. I then hand picked the lapped side of the zip for a really neat and professional finish.

Around the neckline I also hand picked approximately 3/8 ths inch from the edge.

Finally, the hem. Taking inspiration from Sian of Kittenish Behaviour, I used a ½ inch wide White satin ribbon. This was machined close to the overlocked edge of the skirt and then turned to the inside and hand-stitched in place. Using the ribbon has given a little stability and structure to the hem line without losing more than ¼ inch in length.

A good press and now the dress is ready.

The finished dress

I am still thinking about a co-ordinating belt to cover some of the expanse of plain White around the waist but meantime I shall get on with making the Black linen-look Bolero jacket…….. sewing, sewing, sewing!

Kwik Sew K3736 Bolero-style Jacket

K3736 line drawing

In my quest to make a nice, comfortable outfit appropriate for the family wedding in 11 days’ (yes just 11!) time, today I completed making up a bolero-style jacket to Kwik Sew pattern K3736.

I used some Violet-coloured 100% polyester linen-look that has been in my stash for years together with co-ordinating lining. If the jacket works out OK then it can be reserve to go with the border print dress (that I have yet to make!).

I cut the Xlarge size which is to fit a 43-45 inch bust. Knowing that the shoulders would be too wide for me (always seems to happen with Kwik Sew patterns) I hoped that the remainder of the pattern would also be on the generous side.

The jacket sewed up quickly, I made only 2 changes. Firstly, as anticipated, I reduced the shoulder width by ¾ inch and secondly I cut a lining for the sleeves (not included in the pattern). The sleeves fitted into the slightly altered armscye like a dream although I am afraid I hashed up one them so not 100% pleased with the result. Next time I will add ½ inch at the full bust on the princess seam lines and also omit the short vent in the sleeve hem as despite really hammering it with steam pressing, one or other side of the vent consistently sticks out.

Other than that, I think this jacket is a contender and I hope to be able to get another made up in the Black linen that I purchased from Franklins last week.

Mellow Yellow – Auditioning Bodice Patterns

I am planning to make a new dress to wear when attending a family wedding on 2nd July. I have just two weeks to decide on the style, make a wearable muslin/toile and also the dress in the fabric of my choice. My chosen fabric is a border print cotton with a little stretch that has been languishing in my stash for far too long. I have an idea of the style which will have a gathered skirt to showcase the border print but to date have not identified the bodice pattern. As I have several long lengths of cotton print fabric ready laundered in my stash, now is the ideal time to get stitching up a wearable muslin/toile before I cut into the border print. For this version I chose a Bright Yellow background printed with clusters of roses that was purchased from Fabricland some time last year – or maybe even the year before!

To start with I decided to try the princess-seamed bodice that I used for the Yellow roses printed dress (posted back on April 10th) and combine with a 4-gore circular skirt (hack from the Betty dress by Sew Over It). I know that for the border print I will be using a gathered skirt but as I had over 4 yards of the this Yellow background print it would be a shame not to use the circular skirt pattern. As I was uncertain of the finished width of the bodice at the waistline seam, I cut the skirt panels with an additional 2 inches in width to allow for any adjustment that may be required.

I placed the centre bodice pattern centre line on the fold of the fabric thus doing away with the button front, then cut the back bodice with a 1 inch centre back seam so that I could insert a zip. As the short cap sleeves have a curved hem, I cut a lining from plain White poly/cotton.

First I made up the sleeves as they are so simple and straightforward. Then I constructed the bodice. Where the previous version had a button front, this time by cutting the centre panel on the fold it necessitated some adjustment in respect of dart shaping and the side seams. Once I had made up the bodice back and attached the back skirt panels, I used a lap insertion for the zip fastening. I set the zip a couple of inches down from the neckline as I prefer to leave the neckline clear of any interruption. I knew that with the width and scoop of the shaping, I would easily be able to put the bodice on over my head. The zip was required so that the waistline could open up and would go easily over my bust when putting on the dress. I added the front bodice and skirt panels before stitching the entire sides of the skirt and bodice in one seam. The neckline facing has an interfacing of plain white poly/cotton. I set in the sleeves which required a little gathering at the shoulder point as there was too much to be eased into the armscye. I have adjusted the pattern so that next time no gathering should be needed.

Finally the hem of the skirt was overlocked and a narrow hem machined in place.

I have a new dress and completed the auditioning of this style of bodice. Next step is to ‘trial’ my old favourite style bodice that has bust darts and body darts at the front and back. Again I will use the full circle skirt pattern as the fabric I have selected is another length of 4 metres purchased last Summer.

A Tropical Heatwave! – Gretta Sundress Hack no 2

COLETTE PATTERNS ‘GRETTA’ shoulder tie tank top looks lovely hacked into as a Sun Dress. I liked the previous wearable muslin/toile so much that I have made another. Am I tempting fate with two sundresses?

The fabric for this incarnation was 2 metres x 150 cms wide purchased a few weeks ago during a walk down Goldhawk Road. The stretch cotton sateen has a gorgeous tropical floral print and was lovely to work with although it does tend to fray. This was easily remedied with a quick run through the overlocker.

I made a few more adjustments – I like to call them refinements(!) as I found that the bodice was still very roomy. But we are getting there. I cut the skirt into four panels so that the joining seams would be offset against the bodice seams and darts. As I was a little short on fabric for the skirt it has a finished length of just 22 inches with a narrow machined hem. This has turned out just right – so I wonder if in addition to gaining width am I losing height?