All posts by caroline

Mollie Mini Cross Body Bag by Swoon

Some years ago I purchased two lengths of faux leather from Sew Hot at a very reduced price probably due to the colours of the faux leather – a Bright Turquoise and a Very Lime Green. Those that know me will also know that I am not afraid of bold colours! I set the fabric to one side until I could locate a co-ordinating cotton print as I had set my heart on a two-tone ‘saddle’ bag.

I eventually found just the right print but in the meantime – lost the original pattern which was a cut-out from a magazine, Love Sewing I think.

After a thorough search of the sewing room and a browse on the internet I came across two patterns. One was the Poppy bag from BoutiqueUniqueDesigns and the other was the Mollie Mini Cross body Bag. By this time I realised that I had been hoarding the faux leather for such a long time it was more than overdue to be made up. The pattern for the Poppy bag was printed off and passed to my very good friend along with the fabrics, headliner fabric wadding and hardware with a plea for her to make up the bag.

Trial bag on the Left, my new bag on the Right

Within 4 days I received a photograph of the completed bag – along with the initial ‘trial’ bag! Wow – they look absolutely great.

Now, where was I with regard to the saddlebag?

  

The Mollie Mini cross body bag – this is a free pattern from the Swoon website and is described thus:-

A compact cross body with style, this small bag features an exterior slip pocket, fold over flap with magnetic snap closure and long adjustable strap.”

SIZING / FINISHED MEASUREMENTS:

  • 6” wide 6” tall 2.75” deep

The Swoon pattern looked ideal apart from just one thing – it was much too small. Full of confidence I decided to grade up from the 6inch size to something nearer 10 inches. But, I hesitate to use my lovely faux leather on something so untested. I know, I will make a trial bag using some gifted linen. I have cut out most of the pieces but once again, anxiety stepped in. I have never made this type of bag before – I was unsure of the construction techniques. I would make up the bag to the original pattern – just to test out the various techniques and get a ‘handle’ on how the bag is put together.

Fabric requirement for the Mollie Mini are very small, a fat quarter of main fabric, a fat quarter of contrast and a fat quarter for the lining plus foam wadding, interfacing and hardware.

I had bought a short length of a charming linen print at the Festival of Quilts and this coordinated well with some Terracotta linen from the stash of gifted fabrics.

Although the pattern calls for ¾ inch hardware, I used 1 inch as that was the smallest size that I had. Being in a rush to get on with the project I ignored the instructions for fusible wadding and instead used some leftover pieces of headliner wadding which in hindsight was far too thick for the size of the bag – will I never learn?

Placing the contrast shape onto the front of the bag went well, also applying the magnetic snap to the front panel and the shaped tab. Next was preparation of the magnetic snap tab. I carefully stitched right sides together only to discover that due to the thickness of the headliner fabric, it was impossible to turn right side out. I cut off the stitching and ended up running a satin stitch around the outer edges 3 times to seal them. The end result is just about OK.

When it came to assemble the bag I simply could not make head nor tail of the instructions. It was only after I browsed the finished makes on the Swoon website that the light bulb finally switched on as to how to layer up the various parts!

Now it was relatively plain sailing until I had stitched the gusset to the lining front and back panels only to realise that I should have left a gap for turning. Instead, I put the lining inside the bag with wrong sides facing and applied a binding to the top of the bag. I quite like how that looks which is just as well as by now I was feeling pretty fed up with the whole project.

Final analysis. This is definitely the style of bag that I am after but I think I will leave it a while before I attempt the larger size in the linen and even longer before I make the Faux leather version.

SEW OVER IT Penny Dress – wearable toile

I have long been a fan of Sew Over It patterns and have several in my stash. During the meet up SEW SOUTHAMPTON a couple of weeks ago, I saw several of the ladies wearing this dress and so I decided that I would make up this style.

On my return home I printed off the pdf and the instructions. I checked my fabric stash and originally thought I would use the cotton print that I purchased in Fabricland, Southampton branch.

However, no matter how I laid out the pattern pieces, they would not fit.

I checked the yardage requirements and following a browse on the internet ordered some beautiful Blue background floral print viscose from Fabrikate. I ordered 3 metres of the 150 cms wide fabric at £4.95 per metre, post and packing free. The fabric arrived very swiftly and is absolutely beautiful.

Too good infact to use for the very first ‘trial’ make of the Penny dress.

I re-visited the internet and purchased 3 metres of 150 cms wide stretch viscose JERSEY from ‘cheapest-materials-uk’ on eBay. Cost £4.95 per metre, free post and packing.

As soon as the fabrics were received, they were laundered and were now ready to sew and go.

According to 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 checked my measurements against those of the pattern and decided that the only changes to be made were to extend the length of the bodice by 2 inches, add a little to the waistline of the skirt and also cut the skirt at the size 16 length (I could not accommodate a longer length skirt on the fabric!)

The pattern piece for the skirt is very large and cut on the fold – for a moment I was not sure if it had to be cut once or twice but having referred to the layout was assured that it needed to be cut only once on the fold. I had intended to add a small amount to the seam of the skirt to allow for my ‘larger than average’ waistline but unfortunately I forgot!

Construction was fairly plain sailing until I got to the part where the facing is under stitched and then folded so that it forms the button placket. Again I referred to the pattern information and discovered that there was a ‘sewalong’ for this section of the dress.

https://sewoverit.co.uk/how-to-sew-the-penny-dress-button-placket/

All was now clear and I progressed with the construction.

With the thickness of the jersey fabric combined with layers of interfacing I decided to forego buttonholes. I top-stitched through all the layers of the button placket from the point level with the apex of my bust. I hand stitched the buttons in place – purely for show as the dress easily goes on pullover style!

When it came to the point where the skirt is attached to the bodice, I discovered that there was insufficient width at the waistline of the skirt to match up correctly with the bodice. Ho hum, how to proceed?

What I did was some gentle gathering of the bodice to fit the skirt. On completion I found that there was no need for an elastic insertion. The bodice has a slight ‘blouson’ effect and the skirt is fitted at the waist and over my hips before flaring out into the full circle. However, I have marked up the pattern to ensure that when I make up the woven viscose, there will be sufficient to have an elasticated waistline.As the fabric is jersey and does not fray, for the time being I have left the hem unstitched. I will see how it fairs and if necessary will turn up a very narrow hem and edge stitch in place.

            

Making the dress in a jersey fabric has worked out fine. There is a lovely drape to this fabric and the dress is really comfortable to wear.

Sew Over It Libby Blouse & Betty Skirt Mash-Up

Last weekend during the SEW SOUTHAMPTON meet up I purchased just one length of fabric from Fabricland, Southampton branch. The fabric is a 100% cotton print in a floral design. The colours are much more muted than my usual choice.

At the time I was not sure exactly which dress I would make so have spent a few days cogitating.

Decision: I would try a new (for me) Sew Over It pattern, the Penny Dress.

However, when I started to lay out the pattern on my fabric, it simply would not fit. So, Plan B:- the Libby blouse and mash it to the TNT Betty circle skirt to make a shirtwaister dress.

 

The reasons for choosing the Libby blouse were the extended shoulder and sleeve cuff (similar to the Teddy Designer Tunic by Style Arc) and also the fact that there was a reduce-sized collar stand which I wanted to try.

Guided by the finished garment measurements I cut a size 20 for the Libby blouse bodice. To get the correct bodice length, I measured my centre back and then added an inch to allow for seam allowance and ease. For the Betty skirt, I placed the pattern pieces at the selvedge so there would be centre front and centre back seams to the skirt. I added approximately 2 inches to the side seam allowances to ensure that the skirt panels would be sufficiently large enough to allow for the seams. I also cut large pocket bags to incorporate into the side seams of the skirt. I love pockets!

The fabric was laundered last weekend so was now ready to cut and sew.

I prepared the skirt pockets and stitched the panels. The seams were pressed open and flat, finished with the overlocker. The skirt was then left to hang whilst I continued with the bodice.

The yoke was plain sailing but then it came to the collar. I tried to follow the instructions as close as possible. Unfortunately, these include colour photographs of a printed fabric and despite reading the instructions several times and taking care with transferring all the markings, I did not find collar and stand construction at all easy. For the next iteration I will do some research online to see if I can find a more easy-to-follow method of construction for this particular style of collar. The end result is fine, it just took an inordinate length of time and finessing to get it just right.

The finished sleeve cuffs look good. They have been interfaced with light fusible interfacing and thoroughly pressed into place. I also stitched through all the layers of the cuffs at the underarm seam to ensure that they stay in place.

A search through my button stash came up with 4 really well-matched buttons. Once the buttonholes and buttons had been applied all I had to do was stitch the bodice to the skirt and finish the hem.

Despite checking the measurements of the bodice hem against the waistline of the skirt, I found that I needed to gather the bodice slightly. This has resulted in a slightly ‘blouson’ look. I am happy with this look despite the fact that it was not planned.

I hope to make this style again but in a more vibrant print. I will also extend the centre front bodice to allow for C/D cup bust.

  

I will be wearing the dress with the Tan woven leather belt as shown in the photographs. In the final analysis the dress has a definite 40’s vibe. I am not complaining but fear it may look a bit ‘mumsy’ on me so I am not sure how long it will have a place in my wardrobe.

Teddy Designer Tunic Top – version 4

 

Those of you who follow my blog will have seen this particular Teddy Designer Tunic top before – yes three times!

The previous makes were cut from a size 20 pattern which although is very comfortable, especially in our recent very hot weather, is possibly a little too roomy. So, I printed and prepared the pattern in the size 18.

For this iteration I used a fine Red 100% cotton with White polka dots purchased from Fabricland, Salisbury branch.

As I have mentioned before, the instructions from Style Arc are not the most comprehensive but as I have made the tunic before I did not encounter any problems. I repeated the additional rows of White top stitching on the collar, the facings around the neckline and the hem bands. Again I overlapped the collar at the point of the V inset and top stitched in place for a couple of inches. The seam allowances were overlocked and for the most part stitched together with the exception of the centre front which needs to be pressed open and flat to accommodate the collar inset.

This top is still very roomy but I do feel more comfortable with a little less volume of fabric around me.

SEW SOUTHAMPTON – 28TH JULY 2018

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be able to join with over 30 like-minded ladies (and 1 gentleman) on a get together arranged by Sian, Gemma and Clare.

We met at the entrance to John Lewis at west Quay Shopping Centre for general introductions and group admiration of each others hand made garments. Sian arranged for us to be grouped together into ‘mini groups’ (not compulsory!) and goody bags were distributed.

We then invaded the Haberdashery department of John Lewis. There was a fair selection of fabrics and ‘habby’ but I think, like me, most were saving themselves for Fabricland and Ikea!

We retired to Ed’s Diner for lunch, Halloumi salad and a Diet Pepsi (!) where I shared a table with Laura.

Next, onto Fabricland which is the largest of their stores that I have visited, it even had an ‘upstairs’ (although personally I don’t think there was any more variety and stock than the Salisbury store). I was very restrained and purchased a single length – 4 metres of a pretty (and for me fairly subtle) cotton print.

Not quite sure what it will be but at time of writing has been overlocked and laundered, just waiting to dry.

By now I was pretty much exhausted so left the others to refresh in ‘The Slug and Lettuce’ before going on to IKEA.

A straightforward drive home before collapsing into an armchair and enjoying a fresh cup of tea!

This morning I checked out my goody bags, as just by chance I was given two! Lots of discount vouchers, brooches and badges, Spoonflower sample set, business cards and fabric!

A fabulous day out that I thoroughly enjoyed and cannot wait until the SEW SOUTHAMPTON TAKE 2.

Lemons print and Lemonade

Have you ever had of those projects where it seems that nothing is straightforward? Each two steps forward involve a step backwards so progress is slow and painful? There is a saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. So that is what I have been doing but in the form of a dress. 

It all started when I saw a beautiful dress made up in Duck Egg Blue cotton sateen printed with Lemons on the instagram feed of Roisin Muldoon.

The text stated that the fabric had come from Fabrics Galore. I immediately contacted them as I was unable to find the design on their website. Apparently that particular print was out of stock and there was no good news about further supplies. A search on the internet threw up an alternative Lemons design.

Emily Hallman shows a dress in a Navy background with Lemons print which is very similar to the one that I found.

This has large lemons printed on a Navy background. The fabric was listed as Cotton Poplin. I ordered 3 metres of 140 cms wide, knowing that the fabric was coming from abroad, the estimated delivery was for anytime within the next 4-6 weeks. So I settled down for a long wait.

I regularly checked the tracking. Around the time that I was expecting the parcel to arrive, I received a card from the Royal Mail advising that I was due to receive a package but that a £13.16 customs fee was payable. I paid the fee and was expecting the parcel to arrive on Friday. Friday came and went along with Saturday and Monday. I managed to speak to our postman who said that he would investigate as he did recall posting the customs fee notification card through our letterbox.

Wednesday the postman advised that there had been an error in the transcription – the parcel was intended for someone at no 5, not no 8. Their parcel had been delivered as I had ‘so kindly’ paid the fee for them! I contacted the Royal Mail who were most helpful and was assured that since the error was on their part, the £13.16 would be refunded.

OK, so now settle down and wait a bit longer for MY parcel to arrive. The very next day the package was posted through our letterbox!

Great, only when I opened the parcel I discovered that what had been described as Poplin was more or less the same weight as Cotton Lawn. Not exactly what I wanted. No matter – the bodice of the dress would have to be lined and I can do that, although it would add to the sewing construction time (sigh…).

I laundered the fabric and laid out the pattern pieces. I wanted to use my TNT bodice with a full circle skirt. Having laundered the fabric it now measured 2.95 metres x 140 cms wide. No matter how I laid out the pattern it just would not fit. Plan B was to make the TNT bodice with 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 lemons – no way could they appear anywhere near the apex of my bust!

As it has turned out, there are almost no lemons down the centre front of the bodice. For the most part the centre panel is plain Navy which is good – therefore no accentuation of my apple-shaped tummy!

I could not fit the back bodice onto the remaining fabric and still have a centre back seam. OK, so no centre back zip then, and no pockets either! Fortunately with this bodice that has a scoop neckline, I can put the dress on over my head without the use of a zip, but I would have liked pockets.

As a dark lining would have shaded the lemons, I cut lining for the bodice and sleeves from plain White poly/cotton fabric. I cut front and back neckline facings from the fashion fabric which was applied to the lining pieces so that the neckline would be finished with the fashion fabric. I also cut a bias strip of fashion fabric for attaching to the hemline of the cap sleeve linings.

Now, ready for construction: I usually make up sleeves first and set them aside until needed. I carefully applied the bias strip to the hemline of both sleeve lining pieces only to discover that I had made up two left sleeves, not one right and one left. So ‘quickunpick’ out and start again!

Fortunately 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 have no raw edges or overlocked seams on view. The insides would look neat and tidy which is something that I always like to aim for.

I set in the prepared cap sleeves using French seams. Not as simple and easy as my usual method but I am pleased with the result.

For the skirt I found an area at the top of the panels that matched well with the centre front waistline of the bodice and used that as my starting point for the gathers. There is a flat area of waistline seam at centre front and then the gathers start near the ends of the body darts. The flat area did take some time ‘finesssing’ the seam which is almost pattern matched.

I can now tell you that 4.2 metres of fine cotton lawn can be gathered up well with two rows of gathering threads. I am very pleased with the result but will not be rushing to repeat the process on any other dresses. I much prefer a gored or circular skirt which reduces the amount of fabric at my waist.

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.

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

My next project is going to be something really quick and easy!

p.s. I have now located even better versions of Lemons print on Duck Egg Blue from Spoonflower and I will be able to dictate the substrate. I will probably select their excellent quality cotton sateen.

Joni dress hack into a Top

Joni Dress line drawing

Those of you following my blog will have noted that I have now made two Joni dresses from Tilly and the Buttons ‘Stretch’ book. I love this pattern. I had a sizeable remnant of the viscose jersey from the first version and as promised I thought I would have a go at a hack into a top and at the same time, change the construction of the bodice front to eliminate the problems that I was having re finishing of the neckline and twist.

So after several sessions of virtual sewing I planned to cut the front bodice twice and stitch the neckline BEFORE the twist. I would also apply a neck band to the back bodice, let’s see how that worked out.

Method:

I stay-stitched the necklines front and back, applied clear elastic to the back shoulders and waistlines. I cut a piece of fabric on the crosswise grain, 2½ inches wide x approximately 10 inches. This was folded in half wrong sides together and pressed. As I basted the neckband to the back neckline, I stretched the band slightly. I stitched on the overlocker, pressed towards the bodice and then top-stitched 1/8 th inch to secure the seam in the same way as a standard neckband.

For the front bodice I stitched the lining and bodice right sides together, trimmed the seam and turned right sides out. Now here is where it starts to get tricky!

I placed the front bodice down, right side up with the lining flipped away. I placed one of the back bodice shoulders right side down to match the front. Then I flipped the lining back over so that the back bodice shoulder seam was encased within the two front bodice shoulders. I stitched and trimmed the seam.

Now for the twist. In the same way as the instructions, I flipped the bodice front twice. I then stitched the lower centre front seam making sure that I stitched as far as the twist would allow. I then repeated the system of encasing the back shoulder. The front neckline was top-stitched for a neat finish.

The remainder of the construction was completed with the bodice and front lining treated as a single layer of fabric. The skirt/peplum was cut 10 inches long but another time I think I will make it 12 inches.

The use of a lining for the front bodice seems to work on this fine viscose jersey but I don’t think it would be appropriate for a heavier fabric.

    

                                    Joni Peplum Top                                          back neck band

So yet another Joni for my wardrobe. I particularly like the fluttery skirt/peplum and am sorry now that I did not make the co-ordinating butterfly sleeves.  Maybe next time I will do colour blocking. I could use a print for the bodice and sleeves then a plain solid for the skirt. I will have a look in my stash for some fabrics!

Beads of Courage bags

A grand daughter of one of the members of Sprat & Winkle is currently being treated for Cancer. At her hospital they have a programme called “Beads of Courage”. Here is the link to find out all about it:-

http://www.bechildcanceraware.org/beads-of-courage/bead-Bags/

Lizzie contacted the site, purchased 100 labels and the members of the Group volunteered to make up the bags. I signed up for 4 bags and here they are.

The bags are quick and easy to make,each takes only 2 x fat quarters of fabric and some cord. I used cord purchased from Franklins, Salisbury and stitched the bags on ‘Pearl’s a Singer’ my darling Featherweight machine. A most productive and enjoyable afternoon.

Joni Dress by Tilly and theButtons – Version 2

I was so pleased with the way that the first ‘wearable toile’ dress turned out that I immediately set about making another version.

For this version I used some Pink floral patterned polyester jersey that I purchased from Fabricland, Salisbury back in April 2018.

As mentioned in the previous post, I was unhappy with the construction method for applying the neck binding and also the fact that the twist pulled up the bodice seam and skirt hemline at centre front.

To resolve these problems I made a Full Bust Adjustment to the bodice by dropping the point of the centre bust bodice seamline by 2 inches. I used the Nancy Zieman method of pin and pivot which means that the length of the seam remained the same whilst still providing that extra room for my bust but without distorting the seamline. Whilst cutting the skirt panels I added about 1 inch to the length – just to provide a little extra coverage for my knees.

For the binding of the neckline I changed the construction method slightly. I cut the binding as per the pattern but this time stitched together at the short ends. I made the seam the centre back point and added notches to mark centre front and quarters between CF and CB. Having completed the twist I then stitched the centre front bodice seam and also above the twist as far as I could. I marked the neckline on the bodice in the same way as the binding before attaching right side to right side. The binding was turned to the inside and stitched with a narrow zig-zag in place.

The final result is good and bad. Good in that the neck binding is a complete finish with no bulky turnings at the front which I had encountered on the first version. Bad in that there is a definite ‘gap’ above the twist and below the neckline binding. I don’t mind it but feel sure there must be an even better way to manage the twist and the neckline. For the next version I plan to make a front bodice lining which I hope will resolve these outstanding issues.

I did write out a crib sheet for the construction method but in the end did not follow it as having made the dress once before I was confident to go straight ahead and sew!

This pattern has a 5/8 th inch seam allowance and as I was confident of the fit I stitched mostly on the overlocker.

I repeated the hem of the short sleeves by turning back and overlocking so that the result looks like a hemband. The hem of the skirt has been left unfinished. This fabric does not fray and I did not want to run the risk of a ‘lumpy bumpy’ hem by stitching with either a narrow zig-zag or a twin needle (plus of course, I wanted to wear the dress a.s.a.p!).

Now that I have ‘nailed’ this dress I want to try a hack into a top at the same time using the lined front bodice method plus the fluted sleeves.

Now where did I put that fine jersey that I think will be ideal for this project?

Joni Dress by Tilly and the Buttons

I purchased my copy of Tilly’s latest book ‘Stretch’ as soon as it was released and have been waiting impatiently for a ‘window’ to be able to stitch the Joni dress.

The Joni is the final garment in the book and is described thus;

This showstopper dress may look complicated but it’s surprisingly simple to make! The fitted bodice has a stunning draped twist at the front, creating a plunging neckline and a shaped empire waist seam. The dress flares out into a flirty half-circle skirt that’s great for twirling, with a gentle dipped hem that lands just above the knee. Choose from three-quarter or elbow length sleeves. Make Joni in cotton or viscose jersey for every day, or a sumptuous stretch velvet or silk jersey for parties.”

For this ‘wearable toile’ I chose a pretty floral print viscose jersey bought from Fabricland (in December 2017) for £4.44 per metre. The dress takes 2.5 metres of 150cms wide fabric.

I traced off the pattern (size 8 in Tilly sizes!), adjusted slightly for my rubenesque figure then set to and quickly made the dress.

The book contains many pages of instructions with photographs but I found them a little confusing as they go off on a tangent to describe the various techniques. I intend to re-visit and type up my own ‘crib’ sheet which will be much more succinct. Additionally I did not find the instructions for the finishing of the area around the twist very clear, I ended up neatening the area and stitching the undersides of the twist together. The neck binding was, I believe, more complicated that it needed to be and I will investigate alternative methods for finishing the neckline.

I attached clear elastic as instructed by basting with a long straight stitch on the sewing machine. When it came to overlocking the pieces together, due to the 5/8ths inch seam allowance, the elastic was cut off. This does not appear to have had a detrimental affect on the dress. In future I may well omit the elastic on the bottom of the bodice and will use my TNT method of fine ribbon to stabilise the shoulders.

The elbow length sleeves hit just into the crease of my elbow which is uncomfortable. I folded back 1 ½ inches before overlocking so that the hem now looks like a sleeve hem band. I like that effect. The hem of the skirt was stitched with twin needles.

I had failed to notice in the description that the pattern is drafted for a dipped hem. On me it looked as though too much fabric had been taken up by my bust. I have re-drafted the bodice front pattern and made an FBA (full bust adjustment) which means that the bodice seam and front hemline will now be parallel to the floor.

I like the dress and will definitely be making another incorporating the above alterations. My husband also liked the dress. He pointed out that the twist in the bodice and empire waist seam certainly ‘highlight’ my ‘lovely, blossoming bosom!’