Tropical Print Cowl neck Top

Despite being disappointed in the previous fabric purchased fromcheapestfabricsuk on eBay, I was ‘in love’ with this Tropical print at a cost of just £4.95/metre.

Tropical print jersey crepe

I bought 1 metre and was pleasantly surprised as this was a much better fabric to be used to make a second version of the Prima cowl neck top. Sadly the fabric is now out of stock as I would have purchased more if it had still been available.

Again the construction was straightforward and the top completed in record time. The only negative, and it is a small one, is that the fabric is not so ‘fluid’ and drapey as the toile thus the cowl does not immediately fall into the folds but has to be gently arranged by hand.

Tropical print Cowl neck Top

It is worth noting that the pattern is drafted to be used with either jersey or woven fabrics. When using the latter, the front and back bodice are cut on the bias which makes the garment rather fabric-hungry but if I can find a suitable length, I will definitely try the top in a woven fabric.

Prima Cowl-neck top – a wearable toile

For a long time I have been wanting to make a cowl neck top to wear with trousers (and maybe a skirt?) in the Spring/Summer months. I found this pattern Prima January 2012 in my stash of old, long-forgotten patterns when I was having a clear out.

Just the thing so as the pattern is printed on both sides of a single sheet, I set about copying onto plain paper. I made a couple of simple alterations; increasing the size by adding a little to each side seam, making a sway back adjustment and adding to the front hemline to account for a full bust.

Prima pattern January 2012
Line drawing and information sheet

The fabric used was a length of 2-way stretch Poly Viscose Jersey Paisley/Damask Print Dress/Craft Fabric that I originally purchased from cheapestfabricsuk on eBay sometime ago. The cost was only £5.50/metre but I was disappointed when I received the fabric as it was of a poorer quality and the print was not what I had expected. I had kept it back for the sole purpose of making jersey toiles.

Poly Viscose Jersey Paisley/Damask Print Dress/Craft Fabric

The instructions were straightforward and the top was quick to make using my overlocker. Once completed I found that it fitted well and the cowl had a pleasant drape. I had already ordered up some other jersey fabric to make another version of this top so now it was ‘all systems go!’

Prima January 2012 Cowl Neck Top

Mrs H Companion Carpet Bag – mark II

I have previously made the Companion Carpet Bag designed by Mrs H patterns. It has proved a great success and I have received many compliments on the bag. However, the first construction was made using ‘landfill’ fabric, was not ‘absolutely perfect’, made in a light-coloured fabric and is now showing some wear. Currently the Companion Carpet Bag is my favourite and I can see many more being made in the future.

As I now have a stock of 8 inch bag frames, it was time to make another version using brand new fabric purchased from Dunelm Mill.

I actually purchased two lengths of fabric, both of which are destined to become bags.

Tenby print cotton linen
Fern print cotton linen

The fabric chosen for Mark II was the Pale Mustard with an abstract design of leaves. This is still a fairly light-coloured fabric but I think it will coordinate well with my Spring/Summer wardrobe.

I am confident with the construction techniques for the bag so this time I thought it would be a good idea to try out a new handle design.

I have seen several bags with handles that are made using plastic tubing for the ‘inners’. I had about 3 yards of tubing in my stash and having viewed some youtube videos went ahead and made the handles. They are not perfect but I feel that I now have a ‘handle’ (see what I did there?) on how to achieve a good result with this type of construction.

Plastic tubing-filled handles

As demonstrated on Sewing Quarter, instead of piping on the outer pocket, I added one-half of some zipper tape. I am especially pleased with this ‘design feature’.

The only other change that I made to the pattern was to stitch a dividing line down the middle of the outer side pocket rather than attach a magnetic snap.

Divided Side Pocket with Zipper tape trim
Mrs H Companion Carpet Bag in ‘Tenby’ fabric ex Dunelm Mill

I am delighted with how the bag has turned out and will soon be making version 3 in the Light Coral Pink-coloured fabric.

KB Sewing Retreat – Secret Sister Gift Swap

It has been a positive age since I last posted on my blog. I have been exceedingly busy in the sewing room as I was preparing for a long weekend away on a Sewing Retreat. This was the first ever retreat organised and hosted by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour and was held on the Isle of Wight.

I was determined to wear only ‘memade’ garments for the retreat and this meant some last minute dressmaking.

Daisy May who is based in the USA and would be travelling to join us for the retreat had organised a secret sister gift swap. In fact ladies attending the retreat came from far and wide including Erica who also came from USA. I was in the minority having travelled only about 30 miles to the coast before catching the ferry to the island. A car ferry was a new adventure for me but it all went very well and I am now very confident about taking my car ‘abroad’.

Back to the secret sister gift swap; Daisy May gave us a link to a free pattern for a drawstring bag that incorporates an old CD in the base for stiffening and strength. What a great idea and one that I will be adopting in the future.

Having been secretly linked to Anna, I checked her vlogs to get an idea of her likes and dislikes. I made up the gift bag and filled it with an assortment of sewing gadgets and sweets – liquorice allsorts and plain Dark Chocolate.

Anna’s Gift Bag

Altered Joni Top

Original Joni dress

I used whatever fabric was left over when I made this Joni dress to make a top. Unfortunately it was not quite long enough and has therefore been stuck at the back of the wardrobe – unworn. Until now, I found a length of the fabric that was just sufficient to add a frill. So with no further ado, I gathered up the length, added a twin-needle stitched hem and hey presto, the top is now just the right length!

Joni top with added frill

Springtime Shirt Dress

It has been a long time since I last posted details of my sewing projects but that does not been I have been idle. In fact, since the beginning of the month I have completed 8 projects. But it may take a while before they appear on the blog.

Let’s start with the fabric: This was purchased last June as part of a ‘haul’ from Fabricland in Salisbury.

June 2018 fabric haul from Fabricland, Salisbury

The fabric is a lovely Turquoise colour printed with white leaf and swirl motifs. I think I bought 4 metres and I have been pleased to get both a dress (as featured here) and later, a sleeveless blouse out of the length with minimum of waste.

Turquoise cotton

Yet again, my TNT bodice was used and I ‘hacked’ on the collar from Kwik Sew K3736.

Kwik Sew K3736
Turquoise Spring Shirt Dress

The dress is sleeveless with plain White poly/cotton bias binding to finish the armholes. This time there are buttons through both the bodice and the skirt for which I used some charming spotted buttons purchased in bulk through eBay. The skirt has wide box pleats and concealed side seam pockets. There is a deep hem which has been hand stitched in place. All other seams have been finished with the overlocker.

Necklace from Edinburgh Woollen Mill

So now I have another lovely sleeveless shirt dress that can be worn with or without a cardigan plus a pretty necklace that I bought from the Edinburgh Woollen Mill outlet store at Wilton Shopping Centre.

A long-time-coming Alteration

As regular readers of my blog will know, I dislike making alterations. I would much rather dispose of the offending garment and start again afresh.

However, last year I made this charming Daisy-printed denim dress which I wore just once before I lost weight and it became too big. Since then the dress has been hanging in my ’roundtoit’ space awaiting attention.

‘Mandy’ Daisy-printed denim dress

Assisted by a good friend, one day I put the dress on inside out and my friend kindly pinned in at the side and centre back seams.

An eternity later I got around to unpicking the waistline seam and tacking the pinned alterations.

Right Side seam alteration
Left side seam alteration

Another eternity later I finally installed the correct colour thread on my sewing machine and overlocker so that the alterations are now complete.

One thing that I have noticed is that now I do not have such an impressive bust, (having gone down a cup size) the scoop neckline is a little more revealing than I would like. I have to wear the dress with a lace-trimmed camisole underneath so that I don’t frighten the horses!

Improv piecing & quilting a la Nick Ball

Whilst attending the Sewcial Retreat in Oxford last month we were fortunate to have Nick Ball as one of the tutors. The session was listed as ‘Improv Piecing’ which at first did not particularly inspire me. However, Nick showed us a unique method of piecing using rectangles and triangles followed by a very simple method of curved piecing and I was immediately hooked!

I made a very simple quilted case for my Hudl tablet which incorporates both techniques that Nick demonstrated. I am delighted with the result.

Hudl case – closed
Hudl case – open
Hudl case – reverse

This method will be a great way for me to use up lots of small scraps and I plan to make a lap quilt very soon.

Floral Print Dress for Spring

Ditsy Spring Floral Print Cotton

At the Sewcial Retreat I started cutting out and stitching the bodice of yet another sleeveless shirt dress. However, this one would be a little different!

The fabric is a pretty ditsy floral printed cotton from Fabricland in Salisbury. I bought 4 metres last Summer so it has been loitering in my stash for a comparatively short time! I needed all the 4 metres as this time I wanted to have a full circle skirt and for this I used the skirt pattern from ‘The Betty dress’ from Sew Over It.

The bodice has yet another shaped shawl collar from the OOP McCalls 6438 dress pattern.

The dress buttons just to the waist seam of the bodice as I had only 5 of the pretty spotty buttons. Due to shortage of fabric, the bias binding for the armholes was cut from several pieces and joined.

Once the bodice had been completed, I checked the width at the waistline to ensure that the skirt panels would measure up the same. I cut the skirt in 4 panels and included my TNT side seam pockets. Due to the fact that I was fast running out of fabric, the pocket linings are cut from White polyester/cotton from my stash. Only the back of the pockets are cut from the ditsy floral print.

Spring floral dress worn with plaited leather belt
Spring floral dress worn with Red cardigan by Lisa Comfort

I am pleased with the dress which looks best worn with a Tan plaited leather belt and goes very well with my Red cardigan from Lisa Comfort.

However, for some unknown reason I am not ‘in love’ with the dress and so far although it has been completed for 2 weeks, I have still not worn it. Hopefully, as I am now onto making another dress using a pretty turquoise and white print fabric, I will get around to wearing the ditsy floral one soon.

An adventure with Double Gauze

When visiting Franklins in Salisbury for my monthly Patchwork & Quilting Club class, I was browsing their fabrics when I came across a selection of Double Gauze in pretty colours. I could not resist and purchased 2 metres (£9.99 per metre) of the Soft pink printed with white outline of Ginkgo leaves.

Close-up of leaves of Ginkgo biloba

I thought this fabric would be ideal for a Spring/Summer blouse.

Double Gauze from Franklins, Salisbury

I overlocked the raw edges and then packed laundered the fabric together with my TNT bodice pattern to take to the Sewcial Retreat. Cutting out was ‘interesting’ as I had to use 2 tables covered with cloth. Fortunately later I managed to find 2 large cutting mats to protect the cloth and avoid cutting that in addition to the double gauze.

I used a hack of the collar from an old Out Of Print dress pattern McCalls 6438.

The width and length of the bodice were cut ‘by eye’ without a pattern to make a loose-fitting bodice. Likewise, the sleeves were cut in a fairly ‘random’ way, using as much of the remaining length of fabric as possible. I ended up with ¾ length sleeves which I set into the armholes with some gentle gathers at the sleeve head.

The sleeves also turned out very wide at the hem but I prefer a more tailored look. I made some cuffs by cutting two pieces 5 inches wide x the length that would fit neatly around my forearm. The cuffs were stitched into a circle, the hem of the sleeves was then gathered into the cuffs with a non-gathered area either side of the sleeve seam. I am particularly pleased with the way that the sleeves have turned out.

Soft Pink Double Gauze 3/4 sleeved Blouse