All posts by caroline

Coming up Daisies – Libby shirt #6

The Libby shirt by Sew Over It is one of my TNT patterns. In an effort to reduce the amount of fabric in my stash I was delighted to find this remnant of pretty Daisy printed cotton with a Green background that was originally purchased from Fabricland in Salisbury. This print is ideal to be part of my current ‘collection’ of Summer clothing and should be great to wear with cut off pants.

“With its boxy shape, cropped hem and pretty collar, Libby is a contemporary yet timeless little shirt with loads of potential. The Libby Shirt features a comfortable loose fit, button-up front, notched collar, partial collar stand, unlined yoke with gently gathered back, and short grown-on cuffed sleeves. Ideal for wearing with a high-waisted skirt or jeans, the Libby Shirt has a cropped hem with two options: keep it straight across the front, or gently curve it to add a little extra length.”

These days I have my standard adjustments for this pattern. I add ½ inch to the side seams, extend the front bodice and facing x 5 inches and the back bodice by 4 inches. This provides the additional coverage needed for a full bust without having to add a dart. I do not use the back neck facing, instead I add a label panel and close up the back collar stand by turning under and top stitching in place.

These adjustments now provide a great fitting blouse that is shaped and long enough to cover my ‘lockdown tummy’. It is also great to tuck into skirts without forever pulling free.

The grown on sleeves still tend to stick out but I do plan to hack the pattern to have set in sleeves. Something that I really must get around to!

Although not included in the instructions, I have top-stitched the collar and facings. For the back yoke I added a loop at the centre plus a box pleat for the fullness.

All seams are overlocked. There are striped 5 buttons (from my stash) down the front of the blouse and the shaped hem has been overlocked before a double turn and machine stitched in place.

I am delighted with how this blouse has turned out, it goes very well with the Red stretch denim TEXAS pants by Style Arc and of course any of my White trousers and skirts.

Project #47 completed 15th July 2021

Quilted Kindle Case

I read from my Kindle every day and like to keep it safe in a padded case. The original case has fallen apart so now I needed to ‘run up’ a new one. I had two scraps of fabric remnants from other projects which were just the right size to make a new case. Using some wadding from an old ironing board cover I quilted the remnant of face fabric. I started with a diagonal grid but then went ‘off plan’ and completed one of my favourite designs where straight lines turn into curves.

I was making up the construction as I went along and having completed the quilting I then stitched the outer to the lining right sides together leaving one end open to turn through. However, I forgot to stitch the sides together before turning right side out and thus have had to hand stitch them – not my favourite pastime!

The flap was finished by turning the lining fabric to the outside, folding and top stitching in place. I also popped in a hair bungee to use as the loop for the button. The button is infact two buttons stitched together which is a favourite method to give additional interest to a plain button.

Now I can rest assured that my kindle is snug, safe and sound in its own padded case.

Project #46 completed 10th July 2021

Vogue 8577/Penny hack = Venezia #2

I first made a dress using a hack of the Vogue 8577 + Penny dress by Sew Over It back in August 2019.

I have named the dress Venezia after my favourite European city.

Adaptations were to remove the midriff band on the bodice of the 8577 and extend to the waistline. I also extended the bodice facing up so that it is stitched under the front edge of the yoke. For the skirt I used the Penny but cut into 4 panels, added side seam pockets and lengthened the pattern by 4 inches.

Thinking about making a new dress for my birthday – yes it is that time of year again, I tried on Venezia #1 and was delighted to find that it still fits PCL i.e. post Covid lockdown! Just to be sure, I ran up a toile using some lightweight pre-washed calico. Yes, it is still fine so used the calico toile as a full lining of the bodice (a la Sian of Kittenish Behaviour). For the skirt panels, I checked the width at waistline for the bodice fronts and back to ensure that they would fit and made sure to add for the button closure down the front of the skirt.

Fabric: I have a 3 metre length of beautiful ‘Paradise’ cotton lawn bought from Stitch fabrics in August 2020 for £40 and decided that this would make the perfect dress for my ‘special’ birthday. The 150cms width of the fabric meant that there was sufficient to cut out my Venezia, especially as ‘Paradise’ is a one-way design. I cut out all the pattern pieces from a single layer of fabric which meant that I could ensure no birds were perched on the apex of my bust! It is a delight, although a mystery to me how I have also managed a pattern match at the centre front of the bodice! Who knew?

Construction: It took approximately 8 hours to make the dress as I used French seams for the skirt panels and side seam pockets. The bodice is lined with the lightweight calico. All 13 buttonholes and buttons (from my bottomless button stash!) were completed on the machine. The narrow double-fold hem on the skirt was also top stitched on the machine. Thus the entire dress was stitched by machine with the only exception being the slip stitching of the bodice lining to the waistline. That is my idea of a great project (hand sewing aggravates my arthritis).

So that’s it – a new dress all ready for the big day.

Project #45 completed 1st July 2021

Sunshine Yellow Shirtdress Wearable Toile

For this ‘wearable muslin’ shirtdress I used a new King size Duvet cover from Dunelm in the design called ‘Ashbourne’. Once unpicked this provided me with 2.15 metres x 260 cms wide fabric in each of the prints. One side is the floral and the reverse is a multi-stripe, more of that in another post.

This will be the #5 version of my ‘Polly’ basic shirtwaister dress pattern which I used knowing that it would need some minor alterations. I added to the length of the bodice, took in the side seams at the underarm, extended the width of the yoke shoulders and top of the armscye and added to the width and length of the skirt panels which came originally from the ‘Penny’ dress by Sew Over It.

The fabric had been laundered when the duvet cover was originally purchased back in 2019 so was ‘good to go’. I had a good colour match of thread to use in construction and there was Pale Cream/White in the overlocker.

I used a light fusible interfacing on the undercollar and facings. There is a self-bias binding for the armholes and 5 pretty flower-shaped buttons from my stash for the bodice. Although clearly marked on the pattern piece, I forgot to cut the yoke pieces on the bias and this has shown up some pulling across the shoulders once the dress was completed.

The major change for this dress was an inset band for the elasticated waist. I cut two lengths of fabric to match the overall length of the waistline edge of the bodice, x 2¾ inches wide. This accounts for 1½ wide elastic plus 2 x seam allowances of 5/8ths inch. This method has worked well although next time I will need to reduce the length of the bodice as this version has a little too much ‘blousing’ over the bust for my taste. In any event, the waistline casing is covered by the wide elasticated belt that will always be worn with this dress.

I added my standard concealed side seam pockets to the skirt. I had lengthened the skirt panels by 4 inches and finished them with a narrow double-folded hem machine-stitched in place which has given me an ‘ideal’ skirt length. I can wear the dress with mules, heels or indeed white plimsolls.

Conclusion: With a few more minor adjustments this could be a TNT dress pattern. This particular version is wearable, especially when worn with a cropped cardigan which conceals the pulling across the shoulders and the excessive blousing of the bodice. I love the flare of the skirt and may well hack the pattern to make a button-through skirt in Cerise linen-look cotton that I have in my stash.

Project #44 completed 26th June 2021

Texas Pants #4

Trying to refine the Texas pants by Style Arc so that they fit my wonky figure has been a little like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Too big, too small and almost just right! Having worn the pants version #3 for a little while I realised that I needed more fabric to accommodate my tummy so that the side seams were not pulled to the front. I slashed and spread by ½ inch and extended the waistband by 1 inch.

For this 4th pair I decided to make the size 22 with the alterations and keep my fingers, eyes and legs crossed that they would be a good fit. If not, then I would wave farewell to the pattern and move on to something else!

For the the previous pair made to this size and altered pattern using a non-stretch poly/cotton, I found them just a little too snug. So…. using a stretch denim would seem to be the right choice. The fabric I used was a Stretch Denim bought from Minerva during one of their sales. 1.8m x 152cms wide for a total cost of £13.77 inclusive of £2.99 post & packing would seem to be good value for a custom fit pair of perfect cropped trousers.

With confidence I cut out and made up the trousers. I top stitched with the same colour thread as construction but the overlocking is done in White. This actually makes sense as the wrong side of the fabric is very pale and the White is a good choice.

Unfortunately, yet again they were not quite right. Nothing wrong with the fit this time, simply that the denim fabric is a little too stiff. The pockets are stitched to the front legs which means there are3 layers of fabric in that area. In hindsight, I also think the pockets are a little too deep but I will fix that should I ever make another pair!

I am pleased that I have been able to find two tops to coordinate with the trousers and when the weather cools down I am sure that I will wear them. In the meantime, a palate cleanser in the form of a simple blouse before I try the next trouser pattern.

Project #42 completed 10th June 2021

A new Melody

I wanted to try a different blouse and was inspired by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour to try a top with tie front. The pattern that Sian had used was Butterick 5895 which is now sadly out of print. It is still available on eBay but only from the USA so costs more than I was prepared to pay. The most annoying thing is that I used to have this pattern but sold it on when having a mammoth clear out!

However, I did recall a tie front blouse pattern from Love Notions that has been in my stash for over a year and this is what I decided to use. The other great point about this pattern is the grown on sleeves so if successful this will be a good substitute for the Libby blouse by Sew Over It as I can see that the collar has a much more simple construction.

The Melody Dolman is a woven button-down dolman with shirt-tail hem that can also be knotted at the waist. This dolman gives you a polished look without a lot of effort. If you’re new to sewing button-down shirts, this is a great beginner pattern. The camp style collar looks clean on the inside and out, and bonus- it’s easy to do! This dolman is meant for apparel weight woven fabrics. Also included is a breast pocket and sleeve cuffs.

The pretty Daisy-printed viscose fabric for the project recently arrived from Rainbow Fabrics of Kilburn. It was one of their remnants which unfortunately was faulty and thus I did not have sufficient for the dress I had originally planned but would be perfect as a wearable toile of the Melody Dolman. At a cost of £12.33 would be great if it worked and not too bad if it did not!

As soon as I started working with the fabric to make the patch pocket, I realised that it was very light and loosely woven. Dealing with a fabric that appears to have a mind of its own is a little like herding cats. I soldiered on…

Having cut out the blouse to XXL Full bust size. I applied the strips of interfacing to the front facing extensions, and French seamed the shoulder seams before staystitching the neck edge. Then for over a week the blouse was draped on the mannequin whilst I attended to gardening and general housework!

Finally, I was able to return to the project. I made up the collar, but attached to the wrong side of the neckline. Fortunately it was only basted so quick unpick to the rescue. Attaching the collar and facings was relatively easy then stitching the side seams. I made French seams for the side seams as by now the fabric was also fraying a great deal. I neatened the hem curves and stitched a narrow double folded hem. Unfortunately due to the loose weave there has been some stretching out and this manifests itself as a wavy hemline. Not my best work! I attached the sleeve cuffs and as they had not been interfaced found they were very ‘floppy’. Rather than hand tack at the seams I decided to top stitch in place.

The last part of construction was buttonholes and buttons for which I used some pretty lemon spot buttons from my stash. My machine is usually excellent at making buttonholes but this time, due I think to faulty thread, there were two where the thread snapped halfway through. A big sigh as I re-threaded the machine and returned to the buttonholes.

Perhaps it was a mistake to undertake this project on a very ‘clammy’ day. Although I had a fan blowing cold air over me I was uncomfortably warm and certainly did not enjoy the process. I simply wanted to get the blouse finished and tomorrow I could move onto something else so the prepared pocket is languishing in the pile of fabrics – not attached to the blouse!

Conclusion: This is a wearable muslin. The armholes are too deep which means there are drag lines from the shoulder seam. I feel that the length (which is longer to enable a tie front which in hindsight I probably won’t use!) is too long when untied.

Although I cut an XXL the blouse is a little too snug over the hips but fits OK everywhere else. I have altered the pattern and hopefully if I use a more stable fabric such as a cotton next time the blouse will rate more than 5 out of 10.

project #43 completed 17th June 2021

Texas Pants #3

Well here I am still trying to perfect the fit of the Texas pants. This is a little like the story of Goldilocks and the three bears. First pair too big, second pair still too big but a little better, 3rd pair just about right!

I put on the first pair that I made using Navy poly/cotton exactly to the size 24. This made it easy to see where I needed to make the alterations. First I reduced the leg length by 1 inch. Then I reduced the front crotch depth by 1 inch at centre front shading to 0 at the side seam. I then slashed the pant leg from top to knee level (which is the point of the lengthen/shorten line), reducing the entire width x 1 inch. Then I slashed from top to crotch level and increased at waist x 1 inch shading to 0 at the pivot point. I amended the pocket bags to fit the new lines. Having done all this to the size 24 I then laid the size 22 over the top. It was almost exactly the same!! So….. I shortened the legs of the size 22 x 1 inch and re-drew the back crotch line (no hungry bum for me!). Reduced the front crotch depth x 1 inch and cut out the new pattern from Burgundy poly/cotton.

Pants construction: I am becoming very familiar with the instructions. I decided that to reduce the time taken to construct this third pair I would ignore the rows of contrast twin-needle top stitching. The construction and top stitching were all completed with the same coloured thread. I forgot to fold out the faux fly so this pair of pants does have the top stitching but so far I have not removed thebasting on the centre front seam. Before attaching the waistband I neatened the hems of the legs, turned up the 2 inches and top stitched in place.

Waistband: I left 1¾ inches open on the centre back seam of the waistband so that the elastic could be inserted later.

I was reminded of a different way to complete the inside of the waistband, I bound the edge with a remnant of pretty pink cotton. Pressed up the seam allowance of the pants to the inside of the waistband and the facing of the waistband down before ‘stitching in the ditch’ from the right side to secure. All that was left to do was to Insert elastic, check the fit and secure the ends of elastic with triple zig-zag stitch.

I am hoping that I am now ready to make a ‘perfect’ pair of Texas using some lovely Red stretch denim purchased from Minerva during one of their sales.

Project #41 completed 31st May 2021

New Dress – size 18

A new dress in size 18 – 18 inches that is!

About 15-20 years ago I used to enjoy making soft-bodied porcelain dolls and dressing them. Although most of the dolls have gone on to new homes, there are still a few that I have kept. When trying to get some order in the chaos that is my stash of fabrics I came across a pattern and a ready-cut-out dress for an 18 inch doll.

As two of my dolls were in dire need of new ‘frocks’ this seemed like a good opportunity to get at least one of them made up.

I have used this pattern as a starting point for many dolls clothes. Although working on a very small scale the sewing is straightforward and fairly easy to complete.

Stitching this dress was a pleasure and made for a very nice change to the trouser-making that is my current project. The seam allowance for dolls clothes making is 1/4 inch and most was sewn on my sewing machine with a little seam neatening by zi-zag stitching or on the overlocker. There are three buttons and buttonholes on the back bodice which makes it easy to dress the doll.

Now at least one of the ‘girls’ has a new dress, I will have to find some fabric for the other so that she does not become jealous!

Project #40completed 25th May 2021

Texas Pants #2

I was so pleased with the ‘wearable toile’ of these trousers that I zoomed ahead and cut out my second ‘real’ pair using some pretty floral printed stretch denim that was purchased a couple of years ago from New Threads Quilt Shop, The Fairground, Weyhill, Andover.

For this version I again cut the 24 but made a note to increase the seam allowance from 1cm to 1.5cms. I also folded back the front faux fly so that the centre front seam would be uninterrupted and reduced the length of the pants by 1 inch. This time the construction was much quicker as I sewed up the pants using the same colour thread for construction and twin-needle topstitching. The internal overlocking was still in White.

As I had previously ‘toiled’ the trousers, I did not stop to fit, just ploughed ahead. It was only when I had finished that I joyfully tried on the pants and checked them out in the mirror.

Oh no! Due to the floral print on the stretch denim they looked like nothing more than a pair of pyjama bottoms!

When I showed the finished trousers to my husband, he just smiled. I will not be wearing these anywhere in public – they will be reserved for working in the back garden where no-one can see me.

So now it is onwards and upwards as I check out patterns for dungarees……

project #39 completed 19th May 2021

Slow Sew to Texas

For me May is the month of ‘Blossoms and Bottoms’. By Bottoms I mean trousers, skirts, culottes and jumpsuits. Earlier this month I made a pair of trousers in Khaki Ponte Roma using a TNT pattern Butterick 6388 but I would like to find a TNT pattern for use with woven fabrics and maybe some different styles of bottoms!

To start my quest I tried the Texas pants by Style Arc. Inspired by the coloured sketch of the pattern I used some plain Navy poly/cotton in my stash that was originally a king size sheet.

I cut a size 24 which I believed would be ample enough for my rubenesque figure.  The pattern pieces appeared small and fitted easily onto a small section of the sheet. There is a great deal remaining, perhaps sufficient to try out the Zadie jumpsuit.

Cutting out did not take long, nor the construction.  What did take the time was having to switch from Navy construction thread to Twin needle topstitching in the contrast White.

The instructions produced by Style Arc are fairly minimal and also when printed out, one needs a magnifying glass to read them. To help me through the process I typed my own set of instructions with amendments/reference to my particular construction tips and tricks.

I made my usual adjustment to the curve on the back crotch seam, lowering by 1inch to avoid having a ‘hungry bottom’. I top stitched the faux fly but have decided against adding buttons which would draw attention to my tummy. Next time I will fold back the faux fly on the pattern piece and make a straight centre front seam. I used my preferred method of attaching the waistband and inserting the wide elastic into the casing.

Conclusion: If using a fabric with stretch I will definitely need to downsize. If using a non-stretch fabric I will make a size 24 again but take extra wide seam allowances, as this pair are more than roomy enough.

From the illustration I thought that the pants would be 7/8ths length but forgot to measure the inside leg so on me they are full length. Next time I will shorten the length to around 24 inches. I enjoyed myself on this slow sew and look forward to ‘making my way to Texas’ again in the near future! 

Project #38 completed 14th May 2021