All posts by caroline

Finessing Fit for Trousers – 3rd time lucky!

Earlier this month I posted about some Navy track-suiting made up into trousers using Simplicity 2289 pattern.

The first incarnation using size XXL was so over-sized that when my husband saw them, he laughed. You could easily fit another, albeit smaller, person beside me inside this version. I finally got around to unpicking the garment. By that I mean really unpicking. Each and every seam, the top stitching around the waistband and the twin rows of stitching on each hem. I pressed each of the fabric shapes and laid out onto the pattern. I re-cut a size smaller (XL) and again constructed the garment, taking a ¾ inch seam allowance. Still too big. So for the second time, I unpicked the seams. Fortunately this time I had not stitched down the waistband, nor sewn up the hems. But by now I was fast losing any desire for a pair of track-suiting trousers!

For the third and final incarnation I would ignore the pattern! I retrieved a pair of cut off stretch denim trousers that do fit me. Using their measurements I re-cut the fabric shapes. Before stitching up, I made a paper pattern of this version.

The trousers do fit – not exactly as I would like but I believe as near as I am going to get without reverting to a traditional pattern of leg front and back pieces copied from an unpicked pair of existing trousers. It may well come to that but for now I have a paid of ‘relaxed’ fit, very warm and comfortable ‘leisure’ trousers.

And so the search for an ‘Ultimate Trouser’ pattern continues…..

Sally Jersey Dartmouth Dress Hack

Yet another pre-Christmas sale purchase was this 4-way stretch jersey from Fabrics Galore. Described as Viscose Elastane Jersey, a medium weight super soft jersey fabric 150 cms wide at £4/metre. I had not realised that dealing with this fabric was like trying to wrestle with liquid Mercury! The fabric slips and slides all over the place, additionally the cut edges curl tightly to the right side. Getting raw edges to match was a struggle! But, I persisted and the result is a lovely new dress.

Sally Jersey Fabric

I used that old TNT Dartmouth wrap top pattern from Cashmerette to hack a new bodice with a waistline seam to which was added a gathered skirt.

Original Dartmouth Wrap Top

First step was to measure my centre back-to-waist length. I transferred this measurement to the pattern, added a seam allowance and then cut the front pattern length to match. As usual the neckband applied like a dream. How I wish all neckbands were that simple! For the skirt width I measured the width of the waistline of the bodice, doubled it and cut 2 panels. I had originally intended to add side seam pockets but that idea got lost somewhere during the construction process. The sleeves have a narrow double-folded cuff and the hem of the skirt is stitched with a twin needle. I have deliberately made the skirt a little longer than usual as I think I will be wearing it with heels. For the photograph I have added a wide statement belt which has the advantage of covering the seam and helping to pull into my (imaginary) waist.

When my husband saw the dress modelled on ‘Dolores’ the mannequin he remarked that it looked like a very nice dress. Result!

 

Positively Stretchy Paola Top

As mentioned in an earlier post, now is the season of Paola tops. I purchased 3 lengths of jersey fabric from Girl Charlee sale offerings. This particular one was described as Light Yellow Wide Wale Cotton Ribbing and I bought 2 metres at £4.71 per metre. I duly cut out my standard Paola pattern and having threaded the overlocker with Cream, set to to stitch the top.

Within 1 hour I had completed the Paola which has turned out much larger than usual due to the stretch of the ribbing of this knit fabric. As it is a cotton and was not washed prior to construction I am hoping that it will shrink a little in the wash. Meantime it is still wearable.

Due to the stretchiness of the knit, rather than twin needle finish, I have applied deep cuffs to the sleeve hems. For the hem on the body, I used the overlocker and with additional stretch have resulted in a ‘wavy’ hem to the garment. This is quite pleasant but I think in future I may wear the top with a high- waisted skirt so that it  can be tucked inside. Alternatively, I have sufficient fabric to cut a hem band, similar to a previous Dartmouth top and this may be the way to resolve the issue.

So, final analysis, not a 100% positive result but this type of knit has provided a step on my learning curve. In future I will only use rib knits for ribbing or where excessive stretch is an advantage.

Oh So Warm – Reversible Fleece Jacket

Last week I caught up with this vlog in which Angela demonstrates how to make a reversible jacket. I thought to myself – ‘I can do that’.

Using my Bianca coat pattern from Sew me Something, I drafted a few changes to the pattern to turn it from the coat to a jacket.

First I measured the back length of my latest bias hem frilled tunic top. I wanted the new jacket to be long enough to cover this tunic. The back length needed to be 32 inches. I measured the underarm seam and added 3 inches for the fold back cuff – 19 inches. The centre back seam of the collar was reduced from the original pattern to 5 inches.

The fleece fabric in Purple and Grey was purchased from Fabricland, 3 metres each x 150 cms wide in each colourway. The first jacket was cut and stitched using the Purple fabric and Parma Violet-coloured thread. Stitch length was 4mm. The jacket took just 2.3 metres and as the fabric had been a generous 3 metres I will have sufficient left over to use on another project.

I made a faux flat fell seam on the collar centre back and again when attaching the front pieces to the back. At first fitting I established the location for a patch pocket which I cut from a scrap of fabric and attached without any turnings. The top of the pocket was ‘pinked’ and has two rows of top stitching.

Then onto the Grey version of the jacket. I used the same construction method and procedure but this time omitted a patch pocket.

Although in the video, Angela leaves the two jackets separate, I have combined the two jackets by placing wrong sides together and stitching with a 4mm straight seam 1 cm from the raw edges. I stitched all around the outer edge of the jacket and at the hems of the sleeves, which were then turned back as cuffs to expose the contrasting colour.

               

The jacket is extremely warm and I am sure will be very useful in the cold and windy days ahead.

Baggy Trousers!

 

I have used Simplicity 2289 to make three of the Tunic tops in fleece. For those I have made up size XL and they have proved to be ample size-wise. In preparation for making a pair of wide-leg satin-backed crepe evening trousers I thought it would be a good idea to test run the trouser part of this pattern. I checked the actual garment measurements and although I was pretty disappointed with the size (oh yes I know that it is only a number!) when I discovered that the best size was the XXL. OK, suck it up!

I purchased 2.4 metres of 150cms wide Navy track suiting fabric from Fabricland at a price of £4.99/metre.  I was pleased to see that this pattern has no side seams so construction was going to be really quick. No need for seam neatening, having stitched a couple of test seams, I could make  the entire garment on the sewing machine (no need to change thread on the overlocker just yet!)

Off we go – easy, peasy construction and within 1 hour the trousers were all stitched up. I tried them on. Yes they did fit – but there was sufficient room inside for another person – talk about comfy pyjamas! To have the crotch sitting in the correct place involves pulling up the trousers so far that I can tuck the waistband under my bra. The legs are the correct width at the bottom, but I really don’t need all that excess around the hips.

I am thoroughly fed up. I need to alter the trousers and refine the pattern, or trial another pattern before I can even consider making the evening trousers. There is just 9 weeks to go until the cruise and many other garments that I want to make, sew much to do and so little time……

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

For my first post of the New Year –  something different and unusual – I have made an alteration to a brand new project.

I was not happy with the ‘Apples & Pears – where did my waist go?’ dress that I posted recently. As it was, I knew that it would never be worn. I had nothing to lose and therefore decided to ‘hack’ it!

I removed the bias frill from the hem and cut off 8 inches from the length of the dress before adding the frill back on again. I now have a flippy, flirty, new tunic dress that co-ordinates well with my grey leggings. The length of fabric that I had removed from the dress was converted to a detachable cowl collar. Result!

Newly hacked flirty tunic top

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.