Monthly Archives: September 2018

Joni Dress no 5

Following on from the idea put forward by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour, I should make only 5 versions of a single pattern before I move onto something new. This is version 5 of the Joni dress from Tilly and the Buttons ‘Stretch’ book.

Version 1 was a wearable toile, version 2 made up in a Pink floral polyester jersey was just too sweet, version 3 was a hack using the remnant fabric from version 1, version 4 was a cotton jersey that I marked down as a fail (but still counts!) so here is the final version made using some more of that beautiful viscose jersey from an eBay seller, CheapestfabricsUK.

It took just 2 hours from sitting down at the machine with the dress pieces that were cut out over a week ago. What have I been doing in the meantime? Gardening!

As I was now suffering from sewing withdrawal symptoms, an afternoon of sewing was the remedy.

I constructed the dress using my revised method by cutting 2 of the bodice front. I added a neckband to the bodice back before sandwiching between the front bodice and its lining. Unfortunately as this fabric is a little thicker than previous jerseys, the twist is rather bulky (and maybe I should have not sewn the under-twist seam quite so far into the twist?) but I can certainly live with it.

The sleeves were inserted into the flat bodice before the bodice side seams and the underarm sleeve seams were stitched in one pass. A faux cuff that measures 1½ inches was sewn to make the hem of the sleeves. The skirt panels were added before a final fitting.

With jersey fabrics I always have to allow for the various levels of stretch incorporated into the fabric and this particular one is very stretchy. I had already taken this into account when cutting out so no further adjustments were required. I have sewn a single fold up hem, stitched with a long straight stitch on the machine.

I know that this dress suits me much better than version 4 as the colours are darker and the print more bold. It will look good in the coming months worn with opaque tights and possibly boots.

Re-sized Saddle Bag – Room for Improvement!

The original pattern was for a small bag measuring 6 inches wide and 6 inches deep, free from Swoon Bags.

I definitely need something larger so decided to re-size up to a 10 inch.

I drafted out the new pattern but before I swept onto construction of the new size, I thought it would be a good idea to make the original-sized bag first. This way I could check out the construction techniques.

A good idea in theory but in practice I still managed to miss a couple of key points when making up the re-sized bag.

As this was most definitely a ‘trial’ bag I did not want to use any of my ‘special’ fabrics or the faux leather that is destined for the final iteration once I have mastered the pattern.

Instead I used some 100% linen that was gifted to me along with lots of random lengths of furnishing fabrics. This particular fabric is ‘Up the Garden Path’ by Vanessa Arbuthnot, © 2011. I do not have a bag in this colour so if it worked out well then I would have a useful addition to my collection of bags.

For the lining I would use some of the spare fat quarters of Beautiful Birds on Duck Egg Blue cotton that I purchased a couple of years ago from Dunelm Mill. If you are interested, the design is still available in a wide range of products.

Due to the larger size of the bag I thought it would be OK to use headliner foam wadding. This was fine except that again, I ended up having to apply a binding to the top of the bag rather than stitching the lining to the outer and then ‘bagging out’.

I side-stepped the difficulties of turning through the long magnetic tab by making a short tab which was inserted between the outer flap and its lining.

However, I did not allow for the depth of the bag and so the magnets are not in exactly the correct position. The one on the bag side should be nearer to the top edge of the bag. At this stage I cannot change the position so will have to ‘live with it’.

A small mistake when cutting the lining for the bag flap means that the birds are well-placed – but upside down! Other than that I think that I have done quite well with the pattern placement and pattern matching.

Having assembled the outer bag, I realised that I had not cut the panel for the outer pocket that should go onto the back of the bag – oh well, this is definitely just a trial. I have marked up the pattern pieces so that next time the outer pocket panel is not overlooked.

To make up for the lack of a pocket on the outside, I did make two pockets for inside; A small zipped pocket in which to keep valuables, plus a slip pocket for my mobile phone. As the bag is quite deep, I also added a loop to which I can attach my car and house keys which otherwise always sink to the bottom of the bag.

The long strap has an adjustable slider so that the bag can be worn ‘cross body’. As I have temporarily run out of nickel magnetic clasps, the one on this bag is brass, the remaining hardware is nickel.

In conclusion: this bag is not perfect, there is definitely room for improvement but I am nearly there.

Anaconda & Butterflies ‘BEST’ dress

Back in July I made a dress from the Lemons printed Cotton Lawn that I had bought from an eBay seller in China.

I fell in love with the quality of the fabric so when I came across some more fab-u-lous cotton lawn printed with Anaconda snakes, butterflies and floral bouquets it was no contest – I had to have some to make another dress.

I bought 3 metres of the 140 cms wide fabric from the Sew me Something stand at the Festival of Quilts. This was not a ‘cheap’ purchase as the fabric retails at £16 per metre but as it is wide at 140 cms I knew that I would be able to get a full skirt from this length.

I overlocked the raw edges the day after the Festival and laundered the fabric which then sat in my ’roundtoit’ pile until now.

The colours are absolutely right as a key piece of an Autumn capsule wardrobe and more about that in a later blog post.

I wanted to use my TNT bodice with the scoop neckline plus a full gathered skirt. I cut 3 lengths of 29 inches across the width of the fabric. I made a full copy of the bodice front pattern as I wanted to be sure about the placement of those motifs – no way could they appear anywhere near the apex of my bust!

I was able to fit the back bodice onto the fabric using A 1 inch seam allowance for the centre back seam where I inserted a zip. I also had sufficient fabric to make two x side seam pocket bags plus the facings for front, back and sleeve hems.

As the cotton lawn is so fine, I found some perfect Light Blue cotton fabric to use for the bodice and sleeve linings.

Now, ready for construction: as per my usual method, I made up sleeves first and set them aside until needed.

The lining of the sleeves has a wide band of the feature fabric so that if the insides should show at all, you can see more of this fabulous print.

Marking and sewing the darts in the bodice went well as did stitching the lining to the bodice at the neckline. I made French seams in the three skirt panels so that combined with lining of the bodice this dress would look neat and tidy which is something that I always like to aim for.

The zip was set 2½ inches down from the neckline so that there would be no interruption to the line. I used machine stitching for most of the lapped zip insertion but the final line of sewing was completed with some hand prick stitch for a couture finish.

Unfortunately due to lack of fabric I was unable to pattern match the back bodice but I think the final result is acceptable.

The bodice lining was stitched wrong sides together at the neckline and armholes before adding the neckline facings. The back neck facing is extended and sits between my skin and the insides of the zip fastener pull.

The 3 widths of fabric for the skirt were French seamed and by using the centre back seam as a starter point I then marked the fabric in quarters to match up with side seams and darts in the bodice. I marked a point for the insertion of the pocket bags and slashed to make ‘in-seam’ pockets. This method worked well on the previous dress and as it reduces the amount of fabric at my waist is something I will repeat when there is no side seam in a skirt.

Initially I had not planned to repeat the very gathered skirt but as the cotton lawn is so fine it has worked out well and I am pleased with the final result.

After attaching the skirt to the bodice I then pulled the bodice lining down over the seam. I turned up the seam allowance to the inside and hand-stitched in place over the original waist seam.

I set in the prepared cap sleeves but as I was not 100% happy with the French seams used on the Lemonade dress, for this iteration I used the overlocker to neaten the seam. I also set a few small gathers at the sleeve head to counterbalance the width of the full gathered skirt. 

The finale was to hand stitch the hem to give a finished skirt length of 27 inches.

I am delighted with this dress and at present it is being kept as my ‘best’ dress. All I need now is an occasion to wear it.