All posts by caroline

Aubergine Evening Trousers – Simplicity 2289

After all the trials and tribulations with the trouser pattern part of Simplicity 2289 I have just completed another pair.

You may recall from my previous post that I drafted a pattern from the third version when making the Navy track-suiting trousers. I used that pattern to make a pair of evening trousers which will co-ordinate with some pretty small sequinned jersey bought from Fabricland.

Sequinned fabric from Fabricland

For this version of the trousers I used part of a 4 metre length of Plain Spun Poly Stretch Jersey Knit Dress Fabric – Aubergine that was on sale at the giveaway price of just £2.99 from Minerva Crafts. At that price it would be no great shakes if the trousers did not turn out well.

Poly stretch jersey from Minerva Crafts

Well, they turned out great!

It took about 1 hour to cut and stitch the trousers. There is only one leg seam and the crotch seam, sewn with the overlocker,  followed by a channel for the elastic (petastretch ® ) waistband and twin needle stitching for the hems. A really easy project that has inspired me to make another pair of these easy, peasy pants!

Seriously Challenging Sequins – Deer & Doe Plantain Tunic

I purchased this really ‘in your face’ sequinned fabric from Fabricland in early December. With the departure on a cruise to the Caribbean coming up fast thought I had better get on and sew an evening tunic to go with the Black wide leg trousers.

At the time of purchase I did not know which pattern I would be using and so purchased 2 metres at £6.99/metre. Having browsed through my selection of PDF patterns I decided that I would use the Plantain top from Deer & Doe.

This is described as a T-shirt fitted at the shoulders and flaring at the hips, with optional elbow patches. Short, long and 3/4 sleeves are included in the pattern. I had plenty of fabric, cut out view A in size 52 and excluded the elbow patches. Only alterations were to reduce the sleeve length by 4 inches and extend the length, also by 4 inches.

Pinning the fabric was a challenge. I did not want to pin through the sequins and so had to be very careful with pin placement into the jersey fabric between them. I stabilised the shoulder seams with some narrow fusible Vilene ® interfacing. As I did not want to feel the scratchy edges of the sequins on the inside, I made a faux flat fell seam which effectively covered the sequins and made a nice flat seam.

Next was the neckline binding. I was nervous about this but decided to cut some of the un-sequinned selvedge fabric which is the base ‘carrier’. A fine knit that was very stretchy and so great for a narrow neck binding. I lightly pressed the binding in half and then ran a row of overlocking stitches to keep the raw edges together. In effect the binding was ‘gathered’ onto the overlocking stitches but that was fine as I gently stretched and pinned the binding to the WRONG side of the neckline. Taking a ¼ inch seam, I then turned the binding to the RIGHT side and top stitched in place. I am really pleased with the way this has turned out.

At this point I did a test run on the overlocker and found that there were no problems using the machine on the sequinned fabric. Setting in the sleeves was straightforward. Although the notches did not match up with the armscye it did not matter as the sleeves went in beautifully.

Now the side and underarm seams. I left 8 inches open at the hem and overlocked the entire seam from that point to the underarm and down the sleeve seam. As the ‘carrier’ fabric is jersey there was no need to hem the sleeves or the hemline of the tunic. I simply cut level with a row of the square sequins.

Now I tried on the tunic. Oops! The sleeves are very tight and this is when I discovered the fatal error. What I had not taken into account was the fact that although the ‘carrier’ fabric is jersey, the sequins have NO stretch and therefore restrict the stretch of the jersey. I should have enlarged the pattern the to take this into account!

I can wear the tunic but it is not comfortable. My husband does not like the top as he feels it is too glitzy! He is not wrong!

Teal Sequinned Jersey Plantain Tunic

A valuable lesson learned. I have adjusted the pattern and will certainly make it up again. I like the flare over the hips, the extended length and the lovely shaped neckline. So onwards and upwards…..

Possibly not my favourite Paola Top

Oh well, perhaps I should not have attempted sewing when feeling a little under the weather. I thought that as I was using my TNT Paola top pattern, all would be OK. How wrong I was. Those of you that have followed my blog will know that I have made up this pattern ‘hundreds’ of times!

Two metres of Cotton Spandex from Girl Charlee at a cost of £15.96 so not cheap. The fabric had been laundered and was waiting near the top of the stash pile so I waded in with pattern and scissors at the ready!

Standard construction. Narrow cuffs on the sleeves, twin needle stitched hem on the bodice. How is it that the Paola has not turned out as I expect? I have lengthened the top by 3 inches but other than that no other changes. Is it the colour? Have I come to the end of my love affair with Polo-necked tops? I don’t know. The top needs a good press and maybe to be teamed with a terrific pair of trousers, stunning skirt or charming Cleo dungaree dress. We shall have to wait and see.

Back to Basics – Striped Paolina Top

Taupe & White Broad Striped Paolina Top

Back at the tail end of the year I bought several metres of various jersey fabrics (no change there then!). This wide stripe in Taupe and White is 1½ metres purchased from Fabrics Galore at a cost of £6/metre. The challenge for this project was to get the stripes to match across the bodice with the sleeve heads and also at the side seams. I think that I have just about achieved the goal. 

The top is made using my TNT Paolina pattern, a hack from the Paola turtle neck by Named. There was ample fabric to make the long sleeves and shirt tail shaping to the bodice front and back. The neckline shaping was cut freehand so is possibly a little higher than I wanted. To avoid any ‘colouring outside the lines’ for the neckband, I opted to cut the fabric lengthwise so that the stripes on the neckband are at right angles to the horizontal stripes on the bodice. Maybe next time I work with stripes I will take up the challenge and cut the band crosswise.

There is not a lot more to say about this make – hems on the bodice and sleeves are stitched with a twin needle and because of the shirt-tail shaping given a good press.

I plan to wear this top with White Capri-length trousers so can’t wait for my holiday to warmer climes!

Blue Skies & Sunshine – Log Cabin Cushion

I needed a change from dressmaking. I had a quick look through the stash of UFO projects in the corner of my sewing room and came across two blocks of folded Log Cabin in Blues and Yellows. Just the thing – a small ‘pick-me-up’ before I tackle yet another Raglan-sleeved bodice project.

I had plenty of 2½ inch wide strips in the two colourways of Blue and Yellow. Each strip was pressed in half and the folded edge then placed around the outside of the central square. I stitched each strip in place with a ½ inch seam allowance. Further strips were placed just covering the previous row of stitching. The finished blocks were squared off to 8½ inches.

As each block had been stitched to a calico backing I thought that to apply another layer of wadding would be too much. The blocks were stitched together so that the Yellow strips are central with the Blues on the outer edges.

I used some donated fabric for the reverse which has a zip closure. The finished cover measures 17 inches and is well-stuffed with a 20 inch polyester-filled cushion pad.

A brilliant sunshine in a Blue Sky – now that is cheering!

Researching a Raglan-Sleeved Bodice Pattern

For some time now I have been on a quest to find my ideal raglan sleeve bodice pattern.  So far I have stitched McCalls 6754 which was OK but the sleeves were very wide and the neckline quite low. Not insurmountable problems but not yet my ‘Go to’ pattern. I have also tried the Lekala 5656. Again the pattern was not quite right. This time the fit at the underarms was tight and again not an insurmountable problem. I think I will probably re-visit the pattern at a later date.

Lekala Pattern                                        McCalls 6754

Meantime, I have just made up the Blank Slate Rivage Raglan.


For the wearable toile I used some remnant of Dark Teal Ponte Roma that has been hidden at the bottom of my stash for some 20 (yes twenty!) years. Checking the measurements on the pattern I cut out the XXL size. The original pattern is drafted with a high-low hem but I cut mine the same length at both front and back. I had insufficient fabric to cut the sleeves full length and instead cut wide double cuffs to bring the sleeves to ¾ length.

Close up of the sleeve cuff

I top-stitched the cuffs and used a twin-needle for the hem of the garment. I ignored the pattern piece for the neckband and used my TNT method. 

close up theneckband

Really too big Rivage

The finished tunic is too big! The neckline is very wide and the sleeves are also too big. On the plus side, with the weight of the fabric and the ‘A’ line shaping, the body of the Rivage is ‘trapeze’ style and has a pleasant swing to it.

Another item that will probably sit at the back of the wardrobe until it ends up on eBay or in the charity bag!




Finessing Fit for Trousers – 3rd time lucky!

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

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

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

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

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

Sally Jersey Dartmouth Dress Hack

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

Sally Jersey Fabric

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

Original Dartmouth Wrap Top

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

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


Positively Stretchy Paola Top

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

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

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

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

Oh So Warm – Reversible Fleece Jacket

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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