Monthly Archives: December 2017

Eyelashes Everywhere!

From my previous post you will know that the overlocker is currently threaded with Red and therefore I wanted something Red to stitch. Enter this fabulous Eyelash fabric from the Textile Centre. I purchased 2 metres at £4.49/metre. 

Using a ‘hack’ version of Style Arc’s Amy top set about making a tunic top to wear with Black trousers.

The hack was basically using only the shoulder line, sleeves and length of the Amy. I drafted a new scoop neckline and levelled off the hem whilst retaining the ‘trapeze’ shaping of the side seams.

I used my TNT method of setting the shoulder seams with some fusible interfacing, set in the sleeves and stitched the side seams (leaving a 6 inch slit as per the original pattern) and underarms in one. At first fitting I adjusted the front hem to allow for my full bust. At this stage I had to stop to get on with household chores. I left the sewing room in a mess the floor and every surface was covered in eyelashes of the RED variety!

Back again, I completed the neck binding, hemmed the sleeves and lower edges.

Whilst the sewing room is still awash with Red eyelashes I made a detachable Cowl collar.

Warm and cosy cowl collar that is detachable and can be transferred to other outfits

At present the weather has turned deceptively mild so I won’t be wearing the collar just at present but no doubt the temperature will drop in January and February – I will be prepared.

Remnant Paola

If you have read my previous post you will know that I was not ‘over the moon’ with my latest make using this charming printed Ponte Roma from The Textile Centre. However, I still love the fabric and print so was pleased to find that I could just get another Paola top from the remnant left over.

No new comments on this wardrobe staple except to say that I have not hemmed the top – Ponte Roma does not fray and I did not want to reduce the length at all. I cut out on Sunday evening then stitched using my overlocker first thing Monday morning. The construction took just 45 minutes and I wore it under my new Red fleece tunic (Simplicity 2289) when meeting up with friends for Brunch.

As I have the overlocker threaded up with Red, I was wondering what else I could stitch. Lo and behold! Happy mail from The Textile Centre contained a length of ‘Eyelash furry knit’, just enough to make a super Christmas top. I’m off to get stitching!

Apples and Pears – where did my waist go?

Inspired by one of the Stitch Sisters wearing this Hazy Floral Double Border printed Ponte Roma in one of their vlogs, I purchased 3m from The Textile Centre at just £3.99/metre.

I planned to use my TNT shift dress block, add long sleeves and a detachable cowl plus my favourite bias hem frill. I pulled the pattern envelope and was dismayed to find that the pattern for the hem frill was missing. There followed an hour’s search through various stashes of patterns in the vain hope that the missing pattern piece had been stored in a.n.other envelope. No luck.

However I did find McCalls pattern M7046* that had not just one but two bias hem frills included. I traced the pattern from view D (single frill) and set about cutting out my ‘Christmas’ dress. It was only much later that I remembered that I could easily have drafted my own bias hem frill using the slash and spread method. I will work on that when I have completed this dress.

Changes to the pattern: I cut the main pieces for the front and back, carefully centred on the border print design. I reduced the length by 8 inches to accommodate the hem frill. The sleeve pattern was for a ¾ length, I simply added another inch and would later cut a cuff to ensure that the sleeves would reach my wrists.

It should be noted that my TNT shift dress block is actually drafted for woven fabric but as I was unsure of sizing and stretch I cut the full size pattern which could then be ‘finessed’ in terms of fit at the side seams. I reduced the neckline curve at the front by approximately 2 inches and would see how that looked at first fitting.

I marked all the darts with tailor tacks. Having tested the stitching on spare fabric I found that horizontal (bust)darts needed to be stitched with a stretch (lightning) stitch and the vertical (body) darts could be stitched with a normal straight stitch. I applied a narrow strip of fusible Vilene ® to the front shoulder pieces and overlocked the shoulder seams.

I basted the side seams together which is when I discovered that I had ‘lost’ my waist. I have transformed from a Pear to an Apple!

I re-basted the side seams before overlocking to the amended size and shaping that involved taking in over 1 inch each side and removing any ‘waistline’ shaping. The front neckline also needed to be dropped by a further 1 inch at centre front before grading back to the original point on the shoulder seam.

Having established the new neckline I used my TNT method to apply a neck binding with which I am very pleased. So, onto the sleeves. As I had already stitched the side seams I could not do a flat sleeve insertion. It did not matter as the sleeves went in like a dream. However,they were very wide and needed to be reduced by over 1 inch at the wrist grading to 0 inches at the underarm point. I cut pieces for the cuffs at 5½ inches deep x 9 inches wide. Adding a cuff is a simple construction technique which does away for the need to twin-needle the hems so gets a ‘tick’ from me.

Now all that was left to stitch was the bias hem frill. I had matched up the border print to centre front and back and applied taking a 5/8ths seam allowance. On 2nd fitting I felt that the dress was a little too long. Rather than cut off the length of the frill at the hem, I re-stitched the joining seam taking a further ½ inch from the length of both the dress and the frill. Much better. As the fabric is a Ponte Roma and does not fray, for the time being I have left the hem of the frill raw (Gasp – sacrilege!).


Perfect pattern matching!

The dress is now finished (well more or less). I have to say that I am not in love with it. Not sure exactly why but partly because the fullness of the bias frill is nowhere near the fullness as demonstrated on the pattern envelope. I will definitely have to draft my own FULL circle bias frill for the future. For now I have decided not to proceed with the detachable cowl collar.

There is quite a long length of fabric remaining and providing that there is sufficient yardage, I would rather use it for a tee shirt-style top. Meantime, I think I will leave shift dresses alone for a while, so it’s back to waisted garments, probably with full circular skirts which are most definitely my favourite.

* McCalls 7046 – Having reviewed this pattern I have decided that I will never make it up with all those gathers across the main body so have listed it for sale on eBay.


Lady in Red – Simplicity 2289 Fleece Tunic

Building on the success of the Fleece Tunic in Blue, I made another Tunic top,this time in a cheerful RED!

The fabric came from Fabricland at just £4.44 per metre and as I bought 2.2 metres I still have approximately 30 inches remaining that I can combine with the same amount of the Blue colourway to make ‘something else’. I have no idea what, let’s just wait and see what inspiration strikes. Possibly a colour-blocked Lekala 5656 Raglan sleeved top?

Again I cut an XL with sleeves extended by 3 inches and this time I changed the neckline slightly. I dropped the point of the collar insert by 2 inches and extended the collar piece accordingly. It has not quite worked but at least it is now comfortable with more ‘breathing’ space and not too close to the neck.

The entire tunic was sewn on the machine using a jersey needle and straight stitch, length 4.5. Again I reduced the size of the pocket width and set them 2½ inches in from the side seams. There were no other alterations to the pattern.

The sleeves are now just the right length although they could be reduced in width slightly – a note for if and when I make a THIRD version – maybe in Dark Forest Green? The tunic goes easily over a basic vest or if required – a long-sleeved polo neck when the weather is very frosty.

In the Pink with another Paola top

Yep, it’s that time of year again when the Paola polo neck tops take over the wardrobe. For this one, I used some T-shirting viscose spandex jersey purchased from Fabricland at £3.99/metre. Again with judicious pattern layout and cutting, I have managed to get two Paolas from just 2 metres.

The usual construction methods applied. Time to construct is just 1 hour. I cannot praise this pattern enough and certainly feel ‘in the pink’ with this latest creation.


New Season Paola Top in Charcoal Grey Quilted Cloque

On a recent buying splurge for jersey/knit fabrics I came across this Mid-weight Quilted Cloque Jersey from The Textile Centre. I have seen the fabric made up by others and it has been highly recommended by dressmaking vloggers.

I bought 2 metres at £3.14/metre and have been able, by judicious pattern layout, to make 2 long-sleeved tops. The second top will be posted at a later date but for now here is yet another Paola.

Pattern alteration: Added cuffs to the sleeves so that when it is really cold they can come down beyond my wrists.

Construction: I took 1 cm seams and apart from the hem on the bodice which was straight stitched on the sewing machine, all other construction was completed on the overlocker. In this way the Paola is a really fast project. Amanda from ‘ISEWALOT’ has filmed a vlog in which she makes up a Paola in just 1 hour and I to can certainly achieve this.

Comments: As this fabric is thicker than my usual jerseys, I really should have taken just ¼ inch seams as this version has come up a little more snug than usual. However, it still fits and is very cosy. A new polo neck sweater for just £3.14 – how bad can that be?

Simplicity 2289 – Secret PJ’s Fleece Tunic Top

A very long time ago I made this pattern in a Grey fleece fabric that had been gifted to me. The tunic has always had a place in my wardrobe ‘just in case’ the weather turned exceptionally cold or I needed a cosy top to wear. As we are expecting to be in the wake of Storm Caroline (sic!) over the next few of days, I thought it would be a good idea to re-visit this style and a fleece fabric.

I bought some 150cms wide Dark Blue Fleece from Fabricland at just £4.44 per metre to make this new tunic top. The fabric is a lovely Blue colour and has a pile that is very soft and velvety. A real pleasure to wear.

Referring to my original top to double-check measurements, I cut an XL. The pattern took just 2.2m so this works out to be a very cost-effective tunic top at £9.76. The thread used came from my stash and no other notions were required.

The entire tunic was sewn on the machine using a jersey needle and straight stitch, length 4.5. I reduced the size of the pocket width and set them 2½ inches in from the side seams. There were no other alterations to the pattern.

On completion I have found that the sleeves are a little short and I have therefore not turned back the cuffs. In future I will increase the sleeve length by 3 inches and continue to wear the cuffs unfolded.

The close-fitting shawl collar

I also found the shawl collar comes up tighter to the neck and is altogether a closer fit. Next time I will not double fold the hem on the collar and maybe this will provide a little more ease and a looser fit.

Whilst in Fabricland I bought an additional length of the same fleece fabric in Red colourway. After the weekend I plan to make another 2289 with that and will therefore be set up and ready for whatever the Great British Weather throws at us!

An experiment that failed in the final furlong

  Stitching showing through from the internal pockets

A little while ago I made my first ‘Peek-a-boo’ wallet with vinyl pockets. I am pleased with the result but have always felt that there was room for improvement.

End of the zip ‘ripples’ at the edges

I was unhappy with the way that the KAM snaps were inserted, that the shaped end was left open for turning rather than the straight end, that the zip teeth went right to the edge of the wallet and ‘rippled’ and finally that the stitching of the pockets on the inside came through to the outer cover. I decided to address these issues and make a new wallet using some remnant Skandi print Christmas fabric and leftover shower curtaining from a.n.other project.

All went exceedingly well until the final furlong which involved inserting the second KAM snap into the flap that would enable the wallet to be folded up and secured.

I realise now some of the reasons for the failure are; 1) I have used a thicker polyester wadding and 2) the flap not only has wadding, 2 layers of fabric AND some medium weight interfacing. All these layers mean that it is a struggle for the snap to be inserted fully. I used the ‘male’ snap on the flap and try as I might (at least 5 attempts) I could not get sufficient closure on the snap so that it would ‘pop’ into the ‘female’ part. I wish that I had used an alternative closure!

So a lesson learned. I will definitely make this wallet again and next time will avoid issues with the KAM snaps by using a button and loop instead.

Here is the final wallet, closed but not secure!

Loving Lekala #5656 Raglan Sleeve Top

This was my first venture into the realms of Lekala patterns. For those of you that have not encountered this site before it is a great resource for made-to-measure pdf patterns at very competitive prices. You simply input your personal measurements (in inches or centimetres), choose whether or not to add seam allowances and select a pattern. There are many free patterns but on this occasion I chose a raglan sleeved top costing the grand total of £2.15.

The pattern is a simple top with just 3 main pieces, front, back and sleeves. There is also a pattern for the neckband but I did not use it, more of that later.

For this first ‘wearable toile’ I used the remnant of shimmery’ floral printed jersey bought in June from Minerva Crafts. I cut all the pieces and was able to extend the length of the bodice by 6 inches which still left plenty of remnant fabric should I need it.

I stitched the main raglan seams on the sewing machine using the ‘lightning’ stitch, length 3.00. I had my suspicions that the neckline would be too high and having attached the neckband they were confirmed. I removed the neckband and re-shaped the neckline slightly. I then cut my own banding across the width of the fabric x 2 inches wide. My ‘go to’ method to attach banding means that I only cut to the correct length once I have pinned  to the neckline whilst stretching a little as I go. Once I have established the correct amount of ease and length, I cut off the excess, make a narrow seam in back and proceed to baste the neckband with straight stitch on the sewing machine. This is then completed on the overlocker and another row of straight stitching worked from the right side to hold the seam allowance in place.

I kept to the 1 cm seam allowance and found that the extended length of the top was just right. I thought the sleeves were a little short and have added a cuff. This was made from a piece of fabric the same length of the cuff x 3 inches wide, folded in half wrong sides together. The cuffs were also top stitched to keep the seam allowances in place.

Alterations: On this particular fabric which does not have a great deal of stretch for next time I will add ½ inch at the side seams at the underarm point and grade to 0 at the hip. I will also add ½ inch to the side seams of the sleeve pieces. It may be that on a more stretchy fabric this alteration will not be required but it is always easier to take a garment in than to let it out. For the next ‘wearable toile’ I will keep to the extended length of the bodice and the revised neckline scoop to see how it pans out before drafting a new ‘master’ pattern.

I count this top and pattern as 8 out of 10, just a couple of points need improvement!

Yet Another Dresden with a Difference

Next weekend I will be teaching a variation of the Dresden Plate block. Yesterday I did the final preparation for the workbook to accompany the class. This involved making up the project and taking photographs step-by-step.

As we are fast heading towards Christmas I used some seasonal fabrics from my stash. The result is this very jolly cushion.

Once again I am pleased with the design and it has inspired me to research more block designs based on this old favourite. I came across a Missouri Star video that featured a variation called ‘The Beach Ball Dresden’ by ‘My Sister and Me’.

Check it out now or wait and see what I make next week!