All posts by caroline

Autumn Fields Shirt Dress

Recently I noticed that the Virginia Creeper on our garden fence was changing into its Autumn colours.

  

I love all those great hues of Rust, Terracotta, Orange, Tan, Purple, Burgundy and am pleased that having been ‘colour coded’ I am classed as a ‘Deep Autumn’. These colours are exactly right for my palette. Browsing through my stash of cotton fabrics I came across this length of pre-washed cotton print from the Lewis & Irene stable.

The print is their Autumn Fields range and this particular colourway is Acorns and Leaves on a Burgundy background. I had just 2.4 yards (2.2 metres) of 42 ins wide fabric and as far as I can remember this cost just £5/metre in the sale at New Threads Quilt Shop a couple of years ago. This length was originally purchased with a view to making a long-sleeved blouse. Now that I have ‘nailed’ the sleeveless shirt dress I decided to see if there was sufficient for dress #3.

I was able to cut out the pattern from this minimal amount of fabric but there was not quite enough for the under collar, armhole bias and one side of each pocket bag which are cut from the brown spotted fabric I have purchased ready for the lining of a swing jacket.

Construction was plain sailing and I was fortunate in finding just the right colour and size of buttons. There are 12 on the front bodice and skirt. The skirt length is just 24 inches with a 1 inch hand sewn hem.

The dress fits well and coordinates beautifully with my Burgundy tie- front cardigan.

 

A Gift – Adrienne’s Oriental Bag

Those of you who are regular followers of my blog will know that I do not like to make alterations. However, on a recent visit to my friend in London, I was gifted a partially-completed bag. This bag was most definitely not the sort of gift where you look into the horse’s mouth, it is not an alteration – more a ‘completion’.

A beautiful bag made using a charming oriental-style printed cotton combined with very authentic-looking faux leather and the finishing touch of a rectangular frame. Along with the bag came two lengths of the faux leather so that I could complete the bag with a shoulder strap.

After a week of procrastination I settled down to finish the bag. I re-machined some of the areas where the stitching was coming adrift and completed making the strap. I applied a nickel strap adjuster and would also have used swivel hooks but unfortunately I am ‘out of stock’ and being impatient, could not wait. However, it was a very simple task to attach the strap to the nickel rectangles that were already in situ.

The bag measures approximately 10½ inches high x 11 inches wide. It has a plastic grid base stiffener and 4 feet. Inside there are a window zipped pocket and a slip pocket. The frame is secured closed with a tab which has been fussy cut to highlight a bird from the print and incorporates a magnetic snap fastener. The rectangular frame opens to reveal a void of approximately 6 inches square.

     

I could not be more pleased with this lovely bag which is exactly the right size and in colours to complement my Autumn wardrobe.

I have never made a bag incorporating a frame, so this gift has given me the inspiration and incentive to make my own.

Kitty Cat Pin Cushion

As mentioned in previous postings, I regularly make and teach ‘how to’ a Dachshund Pin Dog.

Personally I am more of a cat lover so thought I would make my very own Kitty Cat Pin Cushion.

After surfing the internet I came across a free pattern for Terry cat. (http://dollmaker.nunodoll.com) that I printed off.

The instructions were rather sparse and were originally been designed for construction from towelling, so it was a good thing that I have previously made stuffed toys.

Here is the first version of Kitty made from a scrap of fat quarter of quilting cotton. I have used a felt tip pen to draw in her features. She is not perfect as her head definitely requires some ‘finessing’. 

For now though, I have a ‘jumping off point’ to perfect my pet pin cushion.

Fabric covered Lever Arch File

I always find it difficult to find the perfect gift for teenagers.

Inspired by this project when it was featured on Sewing Quarter I have made a version for my friend’s daughter’s 16th birthday.

I used a pack of fat quarters from New Threads Quilt Shop plus some fusible wadding and a length of plain White polyester cotton from my stash. I had previously purchased a kit for a similar project featuring gardening print fabric, so had the instructions to hand. I also watched the you tube video (Sewing Quarter 7th February 2018) to clarify a couple of points of which I was unsure. If you want to make this project, be aware that the seam allowance is ¼ inch which I could not find mentioned anywhere in the instructions.

   

The construction went easily enough as I made a strip of patchwork pieces from 5 of my different prints, fused the wadding and worked a few rows of quilting. The only slight confusion arose when I was folding the ends of the work to make the flaps at each end into which the file is slipped. I especially liked the glitter clear plastic vinyl that is used for the label pocket on the spine.

I hope to purchase an eyelets kit as I plan to make the coordinating inserts using eyelets to place the envelope pocket and zip pocket into the file. The gift has to be completed by Wednesday so tomorrow I shall be on the lookout for eyelets!

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.

2nd Sleeveless Shirt Dress – ‘Kirstie’ in Rue de Fleur printed cotton

I was so pleased with the outcome of the first sleeveless shirt dress that I made a couple of weeks ago, that I wanted to repeat the success using some fabric from my stash before the Summer ended.

I found some pretty Blue background floral printed quilting weight cotton that I had purchased back in 2015 from a little shop in Hunstanton when I was visiting relatives in North Norfolk. The fabric is Rue de Fleur for Fine Lines Fabric and once laundered there was 2.95 metres x 107cms wide.

I used the same TNT bodice pattern as for the previous sleeveless shirt dress – now known as a ‘Kirstie’ as the style reminds me of Kirstie Allsop of Location, Location, Location fame (although all of her dresses appear to have sleeves).

    

As I was a little short of fabric, this version has a skirt cut from twice the width of fabric x 29inches long which is gathered into the waistline seam. Oh and it has pockets at each side set into a slash as there are no side seams, only a centre back seam.

The original bodice pattern was drafted for set-in sleeves so for a sleeveless version I remove the 5/8th inch seam allowance from the armhole before adding a bias binding. I cut the bias binding 1¼ inches wide and fold in half (wrong sides together). I then stitch the raw edges matched to the right side of the armhole using a 1/8th seam allowance. The binding is turned to the inside and top stitched close to the folded edge of the bias binding.

For this version I used 11 x 5/8th inch buttons set 2¼ inches apart, that I had bought from C&H fabrics in Winchester.

All raw edges inside the dress have been overlocked. I folded up 2 inches for the hem which was then stitched in place by hand.

I have purchased yet another jersey tie front shrug to wear with this dress and think that it will be an ideal outfit for transition to the colder months of Autumn.

                                                                    

Libby Blouse by Sew Over It – Cat print cotton

   

One of the many lengths of fabric purchased at the Festival of Quilts was 2 metres of a charming Cat printed 100% cotton from Fabrics Direct (1914 Kitty Cats © makowever uk). I have been unable to track the fabric down online and cannot remember how much I paid.

I thought this ‘frivolous’ print would look great as a Libby blouse to be worn over cut off trousers during the last few days of our glorious hot Summer and maybe even if we are lucky enough to have an ‘Indian Summer’ in September and October.

Although I was a little unhappy with the construction method for the partial collar stand of the Libby blouse I certainly liked the end result so decided to re-visit the pattern and try once again to master the construction technique.

Having reviewed the pattern measurements I cut a standard size 20 but added 3 inches to the length of the front bodices, back bodice and front facings. I also combined the back yoke with the back bodice and re-shaped the armhole/sleeve edge so that it would match up with the sleeve cuffs. I retained the gentle shaping to provide a ‘shirt tail’ hemline.

Once laid out on the fabric the pattern took only 1¾ yards of fabric (1.58 metres) so is a good stash buster for those odd lengths of cotton fabrics that I have in my stash.

Construction was fairly simple with the exception of that darned collar stand! I re-visited the sew-along on the Sew Over It blog which does help to complete the method as shown in the instruction booklet.

The seams are neatened with the overlocker and the shaped hems were machined in place before completing the side seams ( a trick shown by Jules of Sew Me Something). I have stitched the facings in place to prevent any ‘misbehaviour’ of them turning to the right side. The front closure is completed using 6 Turquoise spotted buttons (from C&H fabrics in Winchester) and buttonholes.

I am very pleased with the completed Libby blouse and hope to get some wear out of it before transferring to my Autumn/Winter wardrobe. I also have sufficient fabric remaining to be able to combine with the Turquoise faux leather and make a co-ordinating saddle bag – result!

Joni Dress no 4 – Dandelion Print

As the last project took quite a long time to complete, I wanted to make a quick and easy dress in jersey. I had some lovely Viscose/Spandex stretch jersey by John Kaldor bought from Rosenberg & Son at the Festival of Quilts (4 metres x 150 cms @ £10/metre) that I had ‘earmarked’ as an early Autumn project.

Now that I have adjusted the pattern to my exact requirements, the Joni dress is a ‘quick fix’ and so I cut out the pattern late one evening.

I cut the ¾ length sleeves and in acknowledgement that this would be an Autumn/Winter garment, added 2 inches to the length of the skirt.

The following day I spent a pleasant couple of hours at the overlocker and sewing machine. 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 at the shoulder seams.

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 just ½ inch 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 to take in the side seams from just below the armholes grading back to the original seam just below the full hip. In this way I retained the fullness of the skirt. I have left the hem unfinished as the jersey will not fray and at present I do not have a jersey twin needle available.

Whilst I continue to enjoy sewing with jersey and the Joni style in particular I am counting this project as a fail. I find that the neutral tones of the print do not compliment either my colouring or figure. I have hung the dress in the wardrobe whilst I decide on its fate.