Plantain Tunic + Detachable Cowl

I have been cruising the internet and in particular, made yet another visit to The Textile Centre website. This is fatal as I simply cannot resist their fabrics!

This time I fell in love with a Striped Native American Inspired Soft Cloqué Jersey Dress Fabric Material (Blue)£4.49 per metre. This is a light-weight ponte type jersey with a cloqué effect pattern. According to Wikipedia: cloqué is a cloth with a raised woven pattern and a puckered or quilted look. The surface is made up of small irregularly raised figures formed by the woven structure). The composition is Polyester/Viscose/Elastane. I ordered 2 metres (Width: 145cm) and had in mind to make the Plantain tunic by Deer & Doe.


Striped Native American Inspired Soft Cloqué Jersey

Although the stripes of the fabric run from selvedge to selvedge I thought it best to have the stripes vertical. This meant that I lost the advantage of the stretch of the fabric but as the Plantain is a loose-fit did not think there would be a problem – and I was right.

Plantain by Deer & Doe

The fabric is an absolute dream to sew! It has a good drape, is soft to the touch and even has a two-way stretch although as I cut down the fabric rather than across I could not take advantage of this. The fabric has a smooth soft feel on the reverse and is machine washable on a 40° temperature.

This finished tunic is in fact a hack of the Plantain top. I used the pattern as a base for some tunic tops that I made last year and knew that I liked the style and fit of the extended length and slightly re-shaped neckline.

I extended the length by 4 inches, raised the neckline by a couple of inches, added deep side slits of 12 inches, added cuffs to the sleeves and adjusted the front hemline slightly for a full bust. I used the percentage of 85% of the neckline to calculate the length of the neckband and this worked out fine. I made a detachable cowl collar (the full width of the fabric x 19 inches) which fits neatly over the scoop neckline to be worn when I need some warmth around my neck and is easily removed when I have a hot flush!

Detachable Cowl collar
Tunic with neckband finish
Tunic with detachable Cowl in place

The tunic goes well with leggings and denim jeans. I have worn the top several times now and received many compliments. I love the fabric so much that I have ordered the last 5 metres and hope to make a dress and another top. Watch this space.

Spring is on the way

Recently we have enjoyed a few days of Spring-like weather and that prompted me to change the quilts on my husband’s grand piano. The ‘Winter Chills’ quilt has been returned to storage and replaced by this colourful quilt made using two jelly rolls plus remnants from my fabric stash. The quilt was made on one of the Rookwood Retreat Days a couple of years ago and is a nice reminder of a most enjoyable time spent with fellow patchwork and quilters.

The Lilac-coloured ‘highlight’ squares (snowballing) at the corner of each block were suggested by Meg at New Threads Quilt Shop whilst the other colours remind me of all the beautiful Spring flowers that have been emerging over the past few weeks. Snowdrops, Aconites, Crocus, Hellebore, Daffodils, Iris and a few Pretty Polyanthus.

Although the weather today is blowing a gale and upping the wind chill factor, indoors we are nice and snug with the sunshine reminding us of the warmer days to come.

Spring Fever!

And finally, 2 small projects

Storage Bin & Extra Small Clam Pouch

Yes, I have finally used up ALL of this pretty red-background floral print cotton. Result! The final two projects were the extra small clam-shaped pouch (which I have also found labelled as a ‘dumpling’) and a small storage bin for those odds and ends that are needed by the sewing machine as we stitch, stitch, stitch.

The pouch is just the right size to take my set of wonder clips and the storage bin can accommodate all manner of bits and pieces of sewing equipment – small measure, point turner, chalk markers et al.

Now I just have to set to and complete my ‘homework’ ready for the free motion quilting session at the retreat.

Daisy print Shirtwaister Dress

I mentioned in a previous post that I originally had 4 metres of this pretty Red background floral print cotton. As I had been using it for the sewing accessories the length of fabric was rapidly decreasing. I needed to be sure that I had sufficient remaining to make a dress so took a break from other projects to cut out and sew yet another sleeveless shirtwaister.

I used my TNT bodice with the hacked collar from Kwik Sew 3736. I cut 2 widths of fabric x 30 inches length for the skirt and this left about ¼ yard for the final sewing accessories (an extra small pouch and a fabric bin for odds and ends).

Hacked the collar from the jacket

As I have previously made this design (the Bajan Madras cotton – http://carouselcottagecrafts.com/bold-bajan-dress/) this particular iteration was a a very straightforward sew. I cut self bias strips for the armholes and made my usual in seam pockets that are stitched to the waistline seam. The skirt is gathered with a centre back seam. The pockets are stitched to slashed side seams which also helps to create a little shaping to the skirt. All internal seam allowances have been overlocked and the hem of the skirt was hand stitched. There are 11 pale Lemon buttons down the front of the dress and these came from my stash.

Daisy print Sleeveless Shirtwaister Dress

The fabric colour and print design of this dress is really more suited to the Summer season but until the weather warms up it does coordinate very well with the Red cropped cardigan from Lisa Comfort.

Worn with a Lisa Comfort cropped cardigan

As I had drawn the fabric and buttons from my stash (previously purchased from Fabricland at least 3 years ago) I count this dress as a ‘freebie’ but that does not mean that I can buy more fabric with a clear conscience!

Scissors Cases & Clam-shaped Pouch

I originally had 4 metres of the Red background floral printed cotton that I have been using for the sewing accessories. I checked the amount left and thought I had better check to see there was sufficient for a dress. There was and I will be posting photographs etc., as soon as the hem has been finished. So back to some more accessories…..

I used a couple of TNT patterns to make 2 scissors cases. The large one will take pinking shears and dressmaking scissors whilst the smaller one is just right for a small pair of scissors plus a stitch ripper. I used a double button for the closure on the large case and a White KAM snap on the small. Neat!

Regular readers of my blog will have seen several versions of the clam-shaped pouch (sometimes referred to as a ‘dumpling’). This iteration was made using some leftover Bosal ® wadding with a plain White poly/cotton lining. I have run out of Red zipper pulls so instead used White plus some Yellow hair bungees for the pulls.

Now I have just two more small items – an extra small pouch for my wonder clips and a small storage ‘bin’ for odds and ends to put by the side of my machine whilst I am working.

Then finally, I will have used just about every scrap of the 4 metres and move onto dressmaking projects that have been cut out and are ready-to-sew:- a spring-themed cotton print dress and two jersey tops.

Needle Organiser

Needle Organiser (C) New Threads Quilt Shop

Over the years I have found several ‘must have’ accessories that make my sewing life easier. This needle organiser designed by Meg Leach of New Threads Quilt Shop is just one of those items.

“Have you ever wondered what needle was in your sewing machine? Do you lose your needles or get them mixed up? Keep track of them with this handy needle organiser. Whenever you put a needle into your machine, place the daisy-headed pin in the appropriate section of the needle organiser and you will never wonder again.”

I have made many of these organisers to gift to my sewing friends and of course I needed to have a coordinated one to take on the Sewcial Retreat.

The panel is printed onto cotton which is then bordered with 1.25 inch wide strips and a backing added. I insert a piece of thick card (which stops the needles poking out at the back) before stuffing firmly with polyester toy filling.

Completed needle organiser does exactly what it says on the tin!

Machine Needle Storage Pouch

Now that I have a smart new needle organiser I also needed some form or pouch or purse in which to store new and unused needles. I was inspired by the clear vinyl pockets that are in the Sew Sturdy Sewing Organiser by Annie Unrein and also the Peek-a-boo pouch by Caroline Fairbanks-Critchfield featured on the sewcanshe.com website. This roll-up pouch seems to be the answer.

I cut a long length of my chosen outer fabric, layered it up with some trellis pre-printed wadding and quilted. I then layered up some plain White polyester cotton which I quilted in channels approximately 1 inch apart.

I cut 4 pieces of clear vinyl the width of my outer panel x roughly 3 inches deep. I made bindings for the tops and bottoms of each vinyl panel from 1.25 inch printed fabric. It was easy to slide the vinyl into the folded bindings and because there was fabric top and bottom, the machine coped well with feeding the fabric through for stitching.

I placed each vinyl pocket onto the lining panel and stitched the bottom edge of each binding. I then basted the sides to the lining panel. Next was the slightly more difficult bit of stitching as the vinyl kept sticking to the underside of the foot. However, with determination I succeeded in stitching sections through each pocket to make a total of 12 sections.

I added a Gold sparkly bungee loop to the top edge of the outer panel together with a ‘handmade’ faux leather label. I placed the outer and lining panels right sides together and stitched around both long edges and the short edge where the loop was basted. Turning through to right side out was a little fiddly and I carefully pressed the fabric, taking care to avoid the iron coming into contact with the vinyl. I turned in the final short edge and hand stitched closed.

I folded up the pouch and checked button placement. I found this lovely ‘jewel’ button in my stash which is the icing on the cake!

Now that I have a pouch for my woven fabric needles, I need to make a second one for storage of the jersey/stretch fabric machine needles but that can wait for another day……

Daisy the Dachshund Pin Dog

Daisy the Dachshund

As part of my new coordinated set of sewing accessories that I want to take with me to the Sewcial Retreat in Oxford next month, I have just completed a new Pin Dog. This is a favourite TNT pattern that I have made many times. For this set of accessories I am using some pretty Red-background floral cotton print from Fabricland that has been in my stash for a very long time. Even after making the Sew Sturdy Sewing Organiser featured in an earlier post plus the pin dog and a couple of pouches, I will still have sufficient fabric remaining to make a dress- but maybe not to wear to the Sewcial Retreat!

Daisy came together quickly and easily, the only real points to take special care of is the matching of the notches for the head gusset and the underbody gusset.

I used polyester toy stuffing, making sure that the tail and feet were well-stuffed before moving onto the head and body. Once fully stuffed, Daisy has her belly closed with some neat hand stitching. Her eyes are two black glass-headed pins that will be replaced with drawn eyes once I am completely happy with eye placement.

Finally, a pretty gold collar from a hair bungee to complete.

Different Stitches – Knitting a Cropped Cardigan

As I have not been able to spend as much time as I would like in the Sewing Room, I have instead been stitching of a different type.

I learnt to knit way back in the late 50’s when I wanted to make a bonnet for my new baby sister. I remember that the yarn was yellow and scratchy, the knitting needles plastic. Whatever happened to that bonnet I don’t know but it certainly never made it to adorn my sister’s head!

Inspired by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour, I wanted a short cropped-style cardigan to wear over my full-skirted dresses. Having made several Aran sweaters and cardigans over the years I enjoy any form of cable knitting.

King Cole 4071

This pattern combines the two requirements of length and interesting texture using my favourite Double Knitting yarn. The yarn that I used is Hayfield Bonus DK which is 100% acrylic, machine washable and can also be tumble dried. The washing instructions were important for me as using a Light Cream yarn I knew that the cardigan would show every little mark and I am rather a ‘dirty’ knitter!

I made the largest size which calls for 13 x 50 grm balls of yarn. I purchased 7 balls of 100 grms as the last thing I wanted was to run out of yarn. As it turned out there was no fear of that as I have 1½ balls of yarn leftover which I can use for another project.

The pattern is simple, based on a 4 row repeat for the back and sleeves, and an 8 row repeat for the two fronts (to include a simple cable). I knitted the back and fronts to the length dictated by the pattern and in hindsight the cardigan is a little longer than I would like. Next time I will shorten by 2 inches. The sleeve shaping was also simple being a raglan design – a favourite of mine as it makes the garment very easy to wear. I did notice that once again my arms are shorter than the standard measurement which meant that I did not knit all the additional rows on the sleeves once I had finished the increasing and just before Istarted decreasing for the raglan armhole.

All went well until I got to the part where you have to pick up and knit the rib that encircles the front edges and the hem of the bodice. Having first knitted the neckline ribbing, over 200 stitches for the hem band are picked up onto a circular needle from one of the fronts around to the centre back. The left side is just plain k1 x p1 rib and the right side has to incorporate the buttonholes. I have never knitted on a circular needle before and this was at times a frustrating experience. However, now it is done and I am fairly pleased with the result.

I am knitting the pattern again. This time I will make the back in a smaller size as the current version is too big across my back.

King Cole 4071 – Straight Edged version

To avoid all that circular knitting I have opted for the straight hem version. I have already purchased some Lavender-coloured yarn and have started knitting the fronts.
Once this version is complete I plan to go onto a much more challenging project which is knitted in 4-ply yarn and will involve a lot more concentration to get the pattern right!

The next challenge!

Simply Spot-on Paola Turtle Neck Tee

Paola Turtle Neck Tee
by Named Clothing

Regular readers will know that the Paola tee is one of my ‘all-time’ TNT tops which have been regularly hacked into many variations. For this iteration I wanted a plain and simple turtle neck tee to go under that ‘oh so subtle’ appliqué corduroy pinafore dress featured in an earlier post.

Colourful Appliqued Corduroy Pinafore Dress

I purchased 1 ½ metres of Pink spotted cotton jersey which is a new line offered at New Threads Quilt Shop, Weyhill Fairground, Andover. As soon as I got home the fabric was washed and hung over the airer to dry.

Meantime, I was distracted by making up the SORA top by Blank Slate Patterns and also completed another version of the Paola using Cloque jersey, neither of these garments was an unqualified success so it was with some trepidation that I cut out the Pink spots Paola.

SORA sweater
Hacked about Paola

I used my latest adapted version of the pattern for the bodice front and back. Bearing in mind my thickening mid-section, I ignored the waistline shaping and cut a straight line from under the arm to the hips. I extended the length of the bodice by 3 inches. Using the original sleeve pattern, I increased by 1 inch at the underarm seam, grading to 0 at the wrist. The length of the sleeved was reduced by 2 inches. The turtle neck collar was reduced in height by 1 inch but increased in width by 1 inch.

It took just over 1 hour to construct the tee which included drafting a pattern for a double cuff which does away with the need to twin-needle stitch the sleeve hems and provides(I think) a professional finish. The hem of the tee was turned up by ¾ inch and pressed with steam before top-stitching with a jersey twin needle.

Simply Spot On Paola Turtle Neck Tee

I am delighted with the fabric, fit and finish of this tee and can foresee that it will get a lot of wear both now and into cooler days of Spring. In fact, I am so pleased I may well re-visit New Threads as I know that they have this fabric in several other colourways.

Hacking the Paola tee

Those of you who follow my blog will know that the Paola top is one of my favourite TNT patterns. I have hacked it to within an inch of its life! Today I hacked again.

Paola Turtle Collar Tee from
Named Clothing

According to Named Clothing, the Paola is described thus:-

Classic semi-fitted turtle neck tee

Full-length sleeves and a turtle neck collar

Choose a light jersey with approximately 50% stretch. The sample is made up in a rayon blend jersey.

Mink Cloque Jersey from The Textile Centre

For this iteration I used yet more of the Cloque Jersey mentioned in the previous post. What I should have done before cutting out was to read the stretch requirements and check the Cloque fabric (it turns out that it does NOT have 50% stretch). If I had checked then I would have adapted the pattern and this garment would have been the original Paola turtle neck top. However, I did not do that!

I pulled my original adapted pattern (previously used for viscose/polyester blended jersey fabrics) and cut out the Cloque jersey.

I used clear elastic in the shoulder seams and set in the turtle (polo) collar. I then attached the sleeves and stitched the side and underarm sleeve seams.

First fitting – what was I thinking? The tee was so tight over my head that I was in danger of being strangled and the effort of pulling the collar over my head also pulled out my earrings! The sleeves were a little short so I decided to use the cuffs that were left over from the SORA top.

So an almost completed garment had to be altered. No way is that my favourite past time.

I removed the collar and re-cut the neckline, dropping the centre front by approximately 1inch. I made up a neckband that was 80% of the measured length (plus seam allowance) and attached to the neckline. It looked OK but not great. Next the sleeves – the cuffs were a lot smaller than the diameter of the hem of the sleeves. I re-stitched the underarm seam grading down to the same width as the cuffs. The cuffs were then folded in half and attached.

Second fitting – the neckline was still not good and now the sleeves were very tight. I cut off the neckband and re-cut the neckline AGAIN, this time dropping the centre front by approximately 1½ inches. The second neckband was attached and this time looked much better. I pin marked the point on the sleeves where they became uncomfortably tight. By laying the sleeves on top of one another I cut off the bottom and drafted a new cuff pattern. The pattern folded double and shaped so that it is wide enough to attach to the sleeve cut -off- point but narrows down to a snug fit at the wrist.

Long double thickness cuffs

Apart from top-stitching around the neckband the entire garment was constructed using the overlocker. Finally I pressed up the hem and stitched with my jersey twin needle on the sewing machine.

Basic hacked Paola tee

I am pleased that I now have a wearable tee although I know that it will never be a favourite. I have a good pair of Bright Terracotta Jeans and with changes to scarves I shall be able to wear the top in both Spring and Autumn.

Spring-time Scarf
Autumn Scarf