All posts by caroline

Tunic Top x Two

On a recent visit to my sister who lives in North Wales we had a day out at Abakhan based at Mostyn on the North Wales coast.

Abakhan Mill, Mostyn, North Wales

We enjoyed a thorough rummage through their fabrics that are cut lengths and priced according to weight. Several lengths of fabric were purchased – no change there!

On returning home we browsed through some patterns that I had picked up from the swaps table during my trip to SEW SOUTHAMPTON organised by the lovely Sian of Kittenish Behaviour.

McCalls M6205 picked up from the swap table

One of the patterns was McCalls M6205. There was no envelope but the pattern and instructions were complete and I therefore downloaded a copy of the picture so that we could see what the finished garment should look like. The pattern came in sizes 16 – 22 and would be suitable for both my sister and me. According to the body measurements, Catherine would need the smallest size and I would need the largest (sigh!).

Bold Border Print Polyester Jersey from The Textile Centre

A quick check of jersey fabrics in my stash revealed a 3 metre length of bold print Korean polyester jersey that I bought from The Textile Centre in June this year for £2.49/metre.

First I cut out the tunic top with ¾ sleeves in my size and then again in the smaller size for Catherine. Unfortunately I did not have sufficient for the long/wide cowl collar/scarf but hope to make this another time.

McCalls M6205 size 22
Back view of McCalls 6205 size 22

I made up my version which I am pleased with – especially the centring of the print on the neckband. However, next time I will lengthen the front and shorten the back as I have never been a particular fan of the high/low hem style.

Catherine’s version McCalls 6205 size 16

Catherine’s version was also constructed very quickly and again I managed to centre up the print on the neckband. As is usual with the big four commercial patterns, in addition to the ‘design’ ease there is plenty of ‘fitting’ ease in the pattern. So….. I tried on Catherine’s top. It fits! Next time I will make both tunic tops in the same size!

I popped Catherine’s tunic into the post and she received it the following day. I have one very pleased sister although she tells me that she would prefer a little less width at the hem. For the next iteration I will slim down her version (she has very narrow hips) from under the armhole to the hem.

Catherine modelling her new tunic

Vogue 8577 – Autumn

A few posts ago I told you about my very first iteration of the Vogue 8577 dress pattern ‘Sian made me do it’. I was so enamoured of the style which was a big departure for me that I have since made three more versions of the dress.

Cotton Lawn from Fabrics Galore

Using the fantastic bargain cotton lawn purchased at the Festival of Quilts. The fabric had been was laundered and sat waiting for me, in less than one month I started cutting out!

I made up the dress according to the pattern but omitted the huge pockets and used concealed side seam pockets instead. As I was using concealed side seam pockets, I cut the front skirt panel from the lining pattern. First I made up the skirt panels using French seams and incorporating the pockets. This was then pinned to the mannequin whilst I concentrated on the bodice.

The bodice is again lined with some White poly/cotton from my stash but the skirt remains unlined.

Having already made the dress once before, this time I paid attention to Sian’s sew-a-long and made a couple of changes to the order of work. I attached the front facing only partway down the bodice front lining before stitching the lining to the main fabric at the neckline and front edges. Having trimmed the seam allowances I was able to understitch the facing before then stitching the armholes and turning through to the right side. By following Sian’s method this meant that I did not need to use bias binding on the armholes and it left a much neater finish.

After a fitting I stitched the side seams of the main fabric and lining of the bodice in one pass. All seam allowances were trimmed with pinking shears and the side seams pressed open and flat. I now had a bodice ready to attach the skirt.

Once the skirt was attached I completed the stitching of the facings and started looking for buttons. I knew that like on the previous iteration, I wanted to have 15 buttons. With such a busy print I was a little unsure as to what buttons to use but came up trumps with these charming flower-shaped buttons in Brown that were in my stash – and I had 17 of them!

close up of Buttons

For the finish of the hem, I still did not use bias binding. Instead I overlocked the hem edge before turning to the inside and top-stitching in place.

Vogue 8577 – Autumn

I am very pleased with the dress which takes pride of place in my new Autumn collection and coordinates with several of my cropped shrugs.

With one of many shrugs

Mini Laundry Bin

I felt in need of a simple sew before embarking on the next dressmaking project. I had a couple of ‘laundry’ related printed fat quarters in my stash and was inspired by an article in an old sewing magazine to sew a fabric bin.

A great quick and easy sewing project, this mini laundry bin was completed within an hour. The bin is lined with car headliner foam (an alternative to Bosal foam) which makes it self-supporting. The bin has a diameter of approximately 10 inches and stands about 12 inches high. Just the right height to stand on the work surface and beneath the wall cabinets.

Mini Laundry Bin

A useful addition to our utility room. This is a handy storage bin for hand towels and tea towels prior to loading the washing machine.

Next stop is a similar bin to use for glass awaiting a trip to the re-cycling centre.

Hummingbird Remnants

I still had some remnants of the Duck Egg Blue background fabric after sewing the full length dressing gown mentioned in a previous post. Question: What to do with these scraps? Answer: Make a set of coordinating cosmetic and toiletry pouches.

I tried a variety of patterns – here are some of them.

Clockwise from top left they are 1) my own design cosmetics pouch

2) Clematis pouch by Blue Calla Designs

Clematis by Blue Calla

3) Very small clam shell pouch for use as a change purse 4) Snap closing purse for feminine supplies 5) Medium sized clam shell purse with waterproof (shower curtaining) lining.

Clematis Pouch

My favourite is the Clematis pattern. For my version I used a small amount of the Gold coloured snakeskin finish faux leather that I bought from Thimbles at the Festival of Quilts. I love this pattern which is quick, simple and takes only a small amount of fabric. For this particular version I left off the wristlet strap.

You will notice that three of the items have small pink ‘Handmade’ labels. These were bought from ‘The Range’ and are a charming addition, I have them in a variety of colours so will be appearing on several future projects.

I still have some remnants of the White background Hummingbird print and can see another selection of bags and pouches in the near future.

Hummingbird Nightdresses

Hummingbird Superking Duvet Set

You are probably wondering why there is a picture of a Superking Duvet set in a dressmaking post. Inspired by Mel of Ditsy Tulip I wanted to investigate the possibility of making clothes using fabric previously in the form of bed linen. Dunelm were having a sale so I visited the Salisbury store to check out for some bargains. I struck Gold! I ended up buying three sets of Superking duvet covers. The cheapest was a mere £14.99 and used to make a dress which has already appeared on this blog. Hummingbirds however was not reduced but at £32 it still represents great value for money.

I chose this particular pattern as I was looking for something in Duck Egg Blue colourway to coordinate with our bedroom décor. I also needed a set of nightdress and dressing gown to take away with me on my upcoming travels.

Having made the dressing gown using the Duck Egg Blue background side of the Duvet cover, I turned my attention to the reverse. This was a White background but had the same design print so would coordinate beautifully with the dressing gown.

Butterick B6024 – a TNT pattern

I had previously made at least two versions using my TNT pattern Butterick 6024. I used version of view B with the short sleeves from view D cut out at full length so that the nightdress would be just 1 inch shorter than the dressing gown.

Full length Nightdress

The tucks are a feature of the nightdress and I took time to mark them up carefully. All seam raw edges are enclosed in French seams and the hem of the sleeves and the body of the nightdress are double turned before machining in place.

Short version

Having completed the long version I was delighted to discover that I had sufficient fabric to make a second nightdress using the same pattern. This one is shorter and has a frill around the hem (to extend the length). Again all raw edges are enclosed in French seams and hems are double turned and machine stitched.

I now make a point of ‘wafting’ around in my nightdress and dressing gown for at least 20 minutes every morning!

Festival of Quilts 2019

It is now almost one month since I joined the coach trip to visit the Festival of Quilts at the NEC, Birmingham. I visited with my friend Pat and we were joined at the Festival by another friend who had travelled from Chiswick. We all had a great day and for once the weather was brilliant sunshine.

There were so many quilts and shopping opportunities, I did not really know where to start. In the end, we started with the shopping – no change there then. I had a list – I did not stick to it!

From the Fabrics Galore stand I bought another 2 metres of my favourite Frida Kahlo printed cotton which is destined to be a simple shift dress to showcase the design.

Frida Kahlo |Border print

I also bought 4 metres of an unnamed cotton lawn at the bargain price of just £6/metre which has since been made up into my second version of Vogue 8577.

Unidentified Cotton Lawn – BARGAIN
Vogue 8577

From the Lewis & Irene stand I collected some free patchwork patterns, and a hug from one of the owners of the company (he remembered me from a talk where I had worn a dress in Lewis & Irene print fabric)!

On to the Thimbles stand which I visited twice. On the first visit I bought some leaf print (Monstera Deliciosa) which I intend to make up into a bag.

Leaf print heavyweight cotton for bagmaking

The second visit I bought this beautiful Tapestry-style fabric with Roses plus 4 lengths of faux leather with a snakeskin finish.

Roses Tapestry fabric + Faux Leathers

The Roses and Red faux leather will be made up into a Companion Carpet Bag (pattern by Mrs H).

Mrs H Companion Carpet Bag

I have already sewn some of the Gold finish as an accent on a pouch (detailed post coming shortly) and I have plans for several new style bags which will utilise the Black & Navy-coloured faux leathers.

After a break for lunch (a very tasty Haloumi salad) we viewed a few more of the many, many quilts before returning to the shopping hall. We visited the Sewing Quarter stand where I had the opportunity to chat to John Scott – what a lovely man.

We then visited Rosenberg & Sons’ stand. I was ‘persuaded’ to buy some beautiful boiled wool in Blue to make a jacket (Simplicity 4032) and a remnant of Mustard boiled wool to make a ‘hack’ waistcoat/vest from the same pattern.

Another break for afternoon tea and a further browse of the quilts before a rest and relaxation whilst we waited for the coach and journey home.

I loved my visit (not sure my credit card was as keen) although I did find it very tiring. Bearing in mind the size of my fabric stash (I swear the fabrics reproduce overnight) and lack of resistance when it comes to fabric buying, perhaps I should refrain from attending any more shows for a while until I have reduced my ‘stock’ and the bank account has recovered!

Humming Bird Dressing Gown

Super King size Duvet Set

You are probably wondering why there is a picture of a Superking Duvet set in a dressmaking post. Inspired by Mel of Ditsy Tulip I wanted to investigate the possibility of making clothes using fabric previously in the form of bed linen. Dunelm were having a sale so I visited the Salisbury store to check out for some bargains. I struck Gold! I ended up buying three sets of Superking duvet covers. The cheapest was a mere £14.99 and used to make a dress which has already appeared on this blog. Hummingbirds however was not reduced but at £32 it still represented great value for money.

I chose this particular pattern as I was looking for something in Duck Egg Blue colourway to coordinate with our bedroom décor. I also needed a set of nightdress and dressing gown to take away with me on my upcoming travels.

print detail of the Hummingbird

I had previously made at least two dressing gowns using my TNT pattern – Simplicity 8486 and so having laundered the duvet set and unpicked all the seams, I cut out a full length version of View A.

Simplicity 8486

The only alteration to the pattern was to reduce the length by a couple of inches and the sleeve length also by 2 inches. I added a narrow hanging loop on the inside of the centre back neck. The pattern calls for concealed side seam pockets but I substituted patch pocket.

Lace-trimmed patch pockets

Initially, I thought that I would use the reverse of the duvet cover which is the same print but on a White background (as shown in the picture above) for the nightdress full length View B, details of this will appear in another post.

I was fortunate that I had an exact colour-match of thread and all raw edges are enclosed in French seams. I added some lace detailing on the sleeve cuffs and patch pocket tops. In very quick time the dressing gown was completed and I am delighted with the result. I now make a point of ‘wafting’ around in my gown for at least 20 minutes every morning!

My new Dressing Gown – especially for ‘wafting’!

Some Skullduggery!

Skull print cotton by Rose & Hubble

My regular readers will know that I love a novelty print so when I came across this skull print on a Cerise Pink background, I just had to have it! I ordered 4 metres as I knew that I wanted to re-visit the Penny Dress by Sew Over It. I have previously made this dress in a jersey fabric back in August of 2018. Now I wanted to make in the fabric recommended by SOI – a woven.

Penny Dress by
Sew Over It

The Penny Dress is a simple, easy-to-sew and utterly gorgeous shirt dress. Stylish, wearable and flattering for so many shapes, Penny is a summer wardrobe must-have. Penny features a sleeveless button-up bodice, flat collar, pretty gathered shoulder panel, easy-fit elasticated waist and on-trend midi-length skirt. The flattering dropped shoulder offers a nod to the 1950s whilst her simplicity will keep you looking contemporary and cool. Though shirt dresses can often be fiddly, Penny makes for a refreshingly simple sew. With no darts, zips or collar stands to contend with it is a simple project, perfect for sunny summer days.

I laundered the fabric and within a day or two was busy cutting out the pattern. I increased the bodice width slightly to accommodate my tummy but forgot to add to the waistline of the skirt – more of that later.

Construction was straightforward but once again I had to review the video tutorial on sewing the facing in such a way as to make the top-stitched button/buttonhole placket. The end result is very neat but narrow, insufficiently wide enough to make my preferred horizontal buttonholes. Instead I placed the buttons on the top placket and stitched them through all layers. There is no problem using this method as the waistline seam has sufficient ease to allow the dress to be put on pullover fashion.

Although not included in the pattern instructions, I cut four of the narrow shoulder yoke so that there would be a lining in this part of the bodice. I used my preferred method for attaching the collar that does away with the need for a separate back neck facing. I did however add a piece of half-moon-shaped fabric into the back neckline that carries my pre-printed label ‘Carousel’.

Having completed the construction of the yokes, button placket and collar I turned my attention to the armholes which form a small cap sleeve. The instructions suggest that you turn up a narrow hem and top stitch in place before joining the front and back bodice at the side seams. I dislike the ‘unfinished’ look of this method so instead made some self bias binding to neaten the armhole sections before completing the bodice. I shall certainly be repeating this method in future as it has turned out very well.

Bodice/skirt waistline – nb no elastication

Now, joining the skirt to the bodice. This is where I made an error. I forgot to add sufficient width to the skirt so that it would match the slightly extended bodice. As the skirt was just wide enough (with a couple of inches of ease) at the waistline, I simply made some tucks (where there would normally be darts) in the bodice so that it matched the skirt panels. Having reduced the width of the bodice and skirt there was now no requirement for elastic in a channel to give the dress a close fit at the waist. Perhaps next time I will remember to extend BOTH bodice and skirt so that an elasticated waist can be included. Alternatively, I may replace the tucks with body darts for a more streamlined effect. The other omission was that I forgot to stitch in my side seam pocket bags. A real nuisance and maybe I will go back and put them in although it will be a tiresome and time-consuming task to unpick the overlocked seams. So maybe not to be undertaken – I shall have to live with no pockets in this dress!

Some Skullduggery Penny Dress

Apart from these minor niggles I am delighted with the dress. I see that this particular print is also available with a beautiful Teal background but perhaps I should concentrate on using some of the ‘miles’ of fabric in my stash……

A new venture – Vogue 8577

I am a regular follower of Sian Singleton of Kittenish Behaviour. There is a particular dress, Vogue 8577 that Sian and her Mum have made several times and they have inspired me to tackle this very different pattern.

Vogue 8577

This style is particularly ‘fabric hungry’ and as I did not have sufficient yardage in my stash, this was an excuse to buy some more!

Vanilla Wood Cotton Lawn £4.95/metre

I bought a pretty ditsy floral print cotton lawn from Fabricland, Salisbury branch to make View B. The fabric was laundered and sat waiting for me to get started…..a year later I finally ‘bit the bullet’ and prepared the pattern.

As the bodice (and skirt) are lined I chose to use the bodice lining as my toile and ‘iron out’ any fitting issues before I cut out the floral print.

Having added extra to accommodate my bust and tummy, at the first fitting all that additional fabric was removed! Vogue patterns in general and this one in particular do seem to have a lot of ease.

First Fitting

I unpicked the basted bodice, cut away the excess fabric and adjusted the pattern. I then re-stitched the bodice to check the fit for a second time. Great result, just a little fine tuning – making a sway back adjustment and adding another inch to the front bodice for full bust. Second set of pattern adjustments.

Sway Back Adjustment

Unpicked the bodice for the second time and compared against my revised pattern. All OK so now I could cut and make the bodice in the floral fabric. I also cut out the remainder of the pattern pieces. I have to say that the skirt is very full and the pockets are huge!

As I had spent so long refining the bodice and due to the fullness of the skirt I decided to forego the lining of the skirt. In any event, a full skirt lining would have made the dress very heavy to wear.

Construction was fairly straightforward although I wish now that I had re-visited Sian’s Sewalong and then I would have avoided having to make bias binding for the armhole edges. Next time I will adopt her method and ‘bag out’ the bodice lining.

Vogue 8577

The only changes that I made were to fold out the centre back seam on the bodice, make a centre back seam in the skirt panel, top stitch part of the pocket band in place and increase the number of buttons from 10 to 15. The buttons came from my stash and are the same as those used on the Stork print dress.

I am very pleased with the dress and having spent time and effort to get the bodice just right, will definitely make again. I just have to find a long length of fabric!

Pioneer Duvet Cover into a Dress

As promised in the previous post, here is the description about my re-fashioning project – I re-fashioned Superking size Duvet cover into a dress. There was a sale advertised at Dunelm Mill store and inspired by the makes of Ditsy Tulip I decided to browse the bedding department to check if there was anything suitable for dressmaking.

I struck Gold! I ended up buying three covers. The ‘Pioneer’ designed cover of Blue and White stripes with an embroidered border was a real bargain, reduced from over £50 to £14.99 so obviously I could not pass that up.

Pioneer Duvet Cover
The Embroidered Border

I could not wait to sew up a new dress with the Striped cover and by the end of the first day it had been laundered and was ready for unpicking.

Thinking about the design I did not want to break up the border of the skirt so it would have to be gathered or pleated. I could use the border stitched on the pillow cases for the sleeves and that left the bodice to decide upon. As there was ‘busyness’ on the skirt and sleeves I thought it best to have a fairly plain bodice, but this time I would try a V-neckline. I drew a quick sketch of my ideas and then hacked my TNT bodice to give a V-neckline with front button closure to the waistline seam.

The duvet cover is a poly/cotton blend and as I did not want any ‘show through’ on the bodice, I interlined with some of the plain White fabric that was the reverse of the duvet cover. I think that it has worked well. I also used the plain fabric for the pocket linings.

Pretty buttons from my stash

I used some buttons from my stash that pick up on the Blue & White theme with an little accent of Red.

Pioneer Duvet Dress

The design has worked well although I have made a couple of ‘rookie’ errors in that the top-stitching on the neckline does not quite match up but that is ‘small beer’ in the overall scheme of things.

The final analysis – I have experimented, produced a pretty and different dress without taking days to work the elaborate embroidery on the skirt and sleeves.