Monthly Archives: April 2017

Paolina no 4 – Floral & Stripes with 3/4 sleeves

As promised in the previous post – here is Paolina no 4. The fabric used was another remnant purchased at Abakhan for the grand sum of £4.83. I am not sure of the fibre content but it feels a little synthetic so probably a polyester jersey. There is a double printed border of stripes with a central panel of very dark Navy and White floral print on a Lilac background. This was a long length of fabric which meant that I could cut ¾ length sleeves. The weather has turned a little cooler after the days of brilliant sunshine so the longer sleeves are a bonus.

Construction was the usual process and I am pleased with how I managed to match up the stripes and floral panel across the body and sleeves. So that I did not have to worry about lining up the stripes for the neckband, I cut the 2½ inch strip with the stripes going vertically and I think it makes a good finish to the neckline. To help identify the front and back, I kept a little of the floral print on the neck binding at the back. It makes it so much easier to put the top on the right way around!

back neck binding

This is the second version with the shaped hem which stitched up easily especially as I took the time to press in place before stitching with the twin needle.

Only small fault is that I stitched the sleeve hems too close to the fold and now the overlocked edges keep peeking out. I will go back and re-stitch the hems so that stops happening. Note to self: remember to increase the stitching line to ensure that it catches the turnings in place.

Paolina no 3 – Lime Green Fleur de Lys

Remember how I made several Paola tops one after the other? It seems that the same thing is happening with the Paolinas.

Number 3 was made yesterday using a length of fine viscose jersey purchased from Abakhan in Mostyn, North Wales. The company sells a lot of their fabrics by weight. This piece was very light and cost the grand sum of £3.05. The colour was a little awkward to match but I eventually found a citrus lemony/lime colour that seems to work well. 

There is not much more to say about the construction other than the fact that this is the first version with the shaped hem and due to lack of fabric – much shorter sleeves. The fabric has good stretch and medium recovery.

Another good neckline band

Now that I am getting used to jersey fabrics and sewing thereof I am also beginning to understand that if very stretchy with good recovery then I can sew with a 1.5 cms seamline, if not so stretchy then the Paolina is stitched with a 1 cm seamline.

Last night I cut out and prepared two more Paolina tops… watch this space for numbers 4 and 5!

Paolina no 2 – Mustard Yellow Polka dots

Hooray! At last a pretty good neckline banding.

Front neck banding

Rear neck banding

Recently my sister told me that she had read that the colour for the Spring was Yellow. I have just completed a dress with Yellow roses (not a complete fail but not 100% good either) so now I am back with one of my all-time favourite makes, the Paolina tee shirt.

The fabric is a tee shirt weight cotton jersey purchased from Girl Charlee for just £8.00. Having learned my lesson from the Flamingo dress, this time I did pre-wash the fabric. 

Construction was very straightforward. Again I approached the neck banding with some trepidation. I feel this is one of the most important features of a tee and separates the home made from the hand made. Still, I managed a good job this time. Every neck band seems to improve – let’s hope I am not speaking too soon!

The hemline of the main body seems to have stretched out a little. To avoid this happening next time, I have re-shaped the hemline to a shirt tail. I have already cut out another Paolina which I hope to sew up tomorrow. Till then, I am off to the garden to enjoy the Spring sunshine.

Completed Paolina Tee

Butterick 5539 – Measure, cut, sew – repeat at least twice!

It all started with Butterick 5539 – an out of print pattern that is very similar to a dress that I bought from M&S about 20 years ago and which now really needs replacing. I decided to make a ‘wearable’ muslin of the dress using some lovely Makower cotton printed with Yellow roses that has been loitering in my stash for some time.

First I measured myself. Front chest width, upper chest, full bust, waist and hips. Then compared with the pattern size chart and decided that the best ‘fit’ was a size 22. I was very sceptical about this size and it turned out that I was right as the pattern comes up very large.

I cut and sewed the shoulder seams of the bodice, attached the neckline and front facings, then basted the side seams before the first fitting. What a disaster! The shoulders were approximately 1½ inches too wide. There was no shaping over the bust and the entire bodice was way too big. I pinned out some of the fullness with darts from the waistline to just below the apex of my bust and tried again. No, still not right. There was a lot of ‘gaposis’ at the armhole. By pinning out the fullness at the armhole it became apparent that what I needed was a princess seam. So – I hacked the bodice apart and ‘free style’ cut a princess seam line. Not quite as drastic as it sounds as I had already pinned an approximate princess line. A little bit more ‘finessing’ and finally the front bodice fitted really well to the contours of my body. The back could do with some more width removed across the upper back and also in some darts from the waistline up towards the shoulder blades but that can happen next time when I will also extend the length of the bodice so that it comes nearer my natural waist.

the princess seam line

I stitched the side seams and inserted the fully lined cap sleeves. As they had been cut to a size 22 and by now the bodice was nearer to an 18 there was a lot of fabric to be eased into the shoulder cap, but I managed it.

Finally the bodice fits!

The two front edges of the skirt were interfaced with some fusible Vilene ® and the skirt panels were gathered by running 2 rows of gathering thread around the top. By dividing the panels into quarters I have spread the gathers evenly around the high waist seam line.

Pockets – the pattern includes some large rectangular patch pockets which I thought did not compliment the style of the print which is more rounded – why not make some soft gathered pockets from the scraps of fabric leftover from cutting out? I am particularly pleased with these pockets and will be including the pattern and instructions in my next workshop ‘Pockets-a-Plenty’.

Pocket bag (wrong side)

Pocket Bag and band

Stitching the band to the gathered top of the pocket bag

Completed pocket

The dress was finished with 9 buttonholes and a set of buttons in Green and Yellow which came from my stash. Although the dress now fits fine I am a little disappointed with the result so will probably keep it as a ‘house dress’.

Moneta dress no 2 – Flamingos – Epic FAIL!

Fabric print design – note the upside down flamingo!


With confidence I laid out the pattern pieces for my next Moneta dress. The fabric has a busy print design of Flamingos and Flowers which I initially thought was a one-way design. Only much later did I discover that there is a flamingo beautifully placed at centre front of the bodice – only it is upside down! However, I digress let me go back to the start.

I bought 1.5 metres of this fine viscose ‘tee-shirt weight’ jersey from Fabricland a couple of months ago and it has worked its way to the top of the ‘to do with dark overlocking thread’ pile. With such a good result with the first Moneta perhaps I was a little too casual this time with my cutting out. Having thought that the design was one-way, I carefully cut all the pieces so that the flamingos would be upright. Having only 1.5 metres of fabric meant that I reduced the width of the skirt front and back pieces a little and placed the back bodice and back skirt on the selvedge so they would have to have centre back seams.

I mentioned in the previous post that the overlocker was not functioning properly and it was only after about 1 hour of threading, cleaning and re-threading that I finally managed to get a good stitch tension on this fabric. I stitched the skirt and bodice back seams on the sewing machine with a ‘lightening’ stitch and pressed well. The fabric kept rolling in at the cut edges so was a real nuisance as I tried to match the seams. There is good stretch in the fabric but I must have taken a little too much for the seam of the back bodice as at first fitting the top was tight!

I cut a length of crosswise strip x 3 inches wide for the neck binding and after some ‘finessing’ attached to the neckline. It is OK but not great. I may well remove and try again another day. The sleeve heads seemed to be extra long and necessitated some small gathers at the shoulders to make them fit. This time the gathering of the skirt onto the ¼ inch wide clear elastic went well – I am getting the hang of that method now.

Dress looks fine on ‘Dolores’ but then she doe not breathe!

Final fitting – oh that dress is soooo tight. I shall have to put it aside until I have lost some weight or offer for sale on eBay. What a shame as I really like the print – I do love a novelty design. I may be mature in age but not in spirit and not ready for ‘old lady’ outfits just yet!

Paolina top no 1 – Blue Sweater Knit

I have previously waxed very lyrical about the Paola pattern from Named Clothing and recently mentioned that I would be ‘hacking’ the design to make it suitable for Spring & Summer tops. The hack is now completed and in future will be called “The Paolina”.

For the first version, I used a 1 metre length remnant purchased at the Sewing for Pleasure show that I attended recently.

Possibly it was a mistake – nothing wrong with the pattern but the fabric was a nightmare to work with. Super stretchy and with a complicated print design, William Morris style, that took a while to get straight on-grain and avoid having ‘targets’ over the boobs!

I used my new method for the neck banding which seems to have worked well it’s just that my overlocker started to ‘play up’ and the twin needle stitching has also tightened up so that the hems are slightly more ridged than I would like.

However, I shall wear the top and look forward to the next iteration in the hope that all proceeds without a hitch.

A long time coming – A Vintage Nursery print Applecore Lap Quilt

At least 5 years ago (and probably more!) whilst on holiday in Cornwall, my husband and I visited Cowslip Workshops to browse their fantastic selection of all things patchwork and quilting.

Amongst other items, I purchased a selection of Fat Quarters featuring some charming 40’s and 50’s style nursery prints. Then, about 2 years ago I spent some time at our Friday morning House Group, hand stitching all the blocks together according to a Sudoku game plan. By using a Sudoku plan I was able to ensure that only on a couple of occasions was a print adjacent to another block of the same design.

Forward to this year, I was asked to make a quilt for a friend’s new grandson and I thought that the Applecore quilt may be appropriate. Here was the incentive to get the quilt finished.

A search through my stash of fabrics revealed a large piece of Blue/Mauve cotton that would be good for the reverse.

Reverse of the Quilt showing quilting lines

I also found a Fat Quarter of a pretty Duck Egg Blue background cotton featuring a print of school buses and animals waiting in line to ascend the bus to use as the binding.

Alas, on checking my stash I could not find a large enough piece of wadding. Infact I could not find much wadding at all! Off to New Threads Quilt Shop at Weyhill Fair on the trail of some polyester wadding. Unfortunately they had no stock of polyester wadding and instead recommended the Soft & Elegant “The Comfort Blend” of 80/20% cotton/polyester batting. This is the first time that I have used this particular blend and wow, it is great! I shall certainly use it again. Having bought 1 metre of the 90 inch wide there is sufficient remaining to make another lap quilt and I already have a plan for a Japanese Folded Patchwork ‘Quilt as you Go’ project.

The quilt was duly assembled and using my walking foot with  80 quilting needle in the machine was quilted ‘in the ditch’. I was at first undecided as to how to finish the binding but eventually decided to apply in a straight line and would forfeit a part of each of the applecores around the outside edge of the quilt. The double fold binding was cut 2½ inches wide and machined with a ¼ inch seam allowance. The binding was then turned to the reverse of the quilt and hand slip stitched in place.

Close ups of the various block prints

Sometime next week I will show the quilt and if acceptable will arrange an embroidered label for the reverse. So after a mere 5 plus years the quilt will be finished.

P.S. My projects don’t usually take this long!