Monthly Archives: April 2015

Swindon Floral Cotton Blouse I

For my next project I needed to use fabric from my stash. I chose this beautiful floral printed cotton by VIP Fabrics of I know that I purchased the 2 metre length from a stall in the Swindon Indoor Market on a visit to my parents who were living in Gloucestershire at the time, so this makes the fabric at least 22 years old! I have kept the fabric stored in a cool dark place so the colours are as vibrant as the day I bought it. I decided to use my “old faithful” short-sleeved blouse pattern which has a hack of the collar from Style 1441 and a shaped hem from McCalls 2797. The only other changes I have made are to “round off” the corners of the collar, front facing and the patch pockets. Although there is no obvious one-way to the design I have cut all pieces in the same direction and the blouse took just 1.75 metres of fabric (114cms wide). I have a remnant left over for patchwork and crafting.


Blofield Paisley Shirtdress

Having completed the Lisette top using fabric from the stash I could now use the new Blofield Paisley printed cotton purchased from Fabricland. I hacked the blouse from Style 1441 by extending the length to make a dress and shaped the hemline as per the Merchant & Mills Dress Shirt pattern. I also decided to have 3/4 length sleeves into a buttoned cuff. From the photo on the website although the fabric  was called “Grey” it looked as though  it had a Blue background but once received I saw that it was indeed a Gun Metal Blue/Grey so the first job was to re-thread the overlocker and sewing machine with the appropriate thread. I enjoyed making the dress which has all seams double top-stitched plus the added extra of epaulettes on the shoulders – a favourite “add-on” of mine. At fitting stage I discovered that the dress was just too roomy. I increased the seam allowance on the side seams and added shaping for the waistline which improved the silhouette. Although I enjoyed making the dress with all the different processes involved, in the final analysis I am not sure if I actually like the finished article. I could wear the dress as it is, add a belt or wear open as a lightweight coat. I will leave it hanging in the wardrobe for a while and see if my feelings change – if they don’t then I shall list the dress for sale on eBay.  Next step – stash busting again.


                      dress 0 fab   dress 1  dress 3 collar

Crazy 5-piece Stack n’ Whack II

As yesterday was a bit grey and overcast I took the opportunity to finish this lap quilt. I added a 1/2 inch flange inset in plain blue prior to the final border of floral print. The backing is a plain calico and I machine quilted in random  zig-zag lines 1/4 inch from the construction seamlines. A different finishing technique was to turn in the edges of both the quilt and the lining and then top stitch together. As I did not make the borders quite as wide as originally planned the finished size of the quilt measures 34.5” x 41.5” (87 cms x 105 cms). When I showed the quilt to my husband he commented – it’s very modern. I take that as a compliment!


Simplicity 2245 – Lisette – Mark III TOP

Whilst I still had my machines threaded up with Light Green thread I checked my stash for some Green print fabric for my next project. I happened upon this charming print of Chicks in the Rain with Bright Red umbrellas. As we are in the month of April Showers I thought it would be appropriate to make up this fabric. There was just over 1 metre of the print which I guess I had originally purchased to make a dress for a friend’s little girl. That little girl is now in her early teens so the moment has passed!

I cut the pattern as a 22 as this fits me well with good ease around the bust and waist. This time I added the turn back cuffs on the sleeves and as a way of increasng the length slightly, added a trim of Broderie Anglaise. All seams are finished internally with the overlocker and top stitched 1/8 inch from the seam. The inside of the top is very neat and tidy.

I am pleased with the result and plan to wear with white jeans and cutoffs. Next project will be something Blue from my recent fabric purchases.


tunback cuff on sleeve

Crazy 5-Piece Stack n’ Whack

As a piece of light relief from dressmaking I decided to complete a small project using the 5-piece stack n’ whack technique. This is NOT to be confused with kaleidoscope stack and whack which is very different.

Starting with 5 fat quarters of complimentary prints I cut 20 x 9″ squares. I then stacked in piles of 5 squares and whacked through with the rotary cutter according to my template. I mixed up the pieces and then stitched them back into blocks. Having squared up the blocks to 8″ I then made a piece of patchwork measuring 4 blocks across by 5 blocks down. The overall measurement is now 30″ across x 37.5″ long. I will add borders to bring the size up to 36″ x 44″ before backing, quilting and finishing with a binding. This is an ideal size to use as a lap quilt.

cg completed quilt top

Simplicity 2245 – Lisette Tunic Dress Mark II

Having recently completed a project using fabric from my stash I could now allow myself to make up the next project using some NEW fabric.

I selected some lovely Soft Green Linen-look cotton purchased from Fabricland, to make the second version of the Simplicity 2245 Lisette pattern which I purchased (at great expense) from an eBayer in Australia. This time I would make the Dress with ¾ sleeves. I decided to use only the plain linen-look fabric with no contrast for the neckline yoke or sleeve bands. Many years ago I made a coat in a similar fabric which I top-stitched in Dark Green and I decided to repeat that finish on this tunic dress. Having held the pattern up against me I thought that it would be long enough, the only adjustments I made were to add a ½ inch to the side seams as I remembered that the tunic top came out a little snug around the hips and to exclude the back opening on the yoke as the dress can be put on “pullover” style. As the fabric has a firm weave and is robust I omitted the interfacing in the small feature rectangle , yoke and sleeve hem bands. Also I overlocked the edge of the yoke facing and top stitched in place from the right side, thus avoiding several layers of turnings where the yoke joins the main body of the dress. I made the bias cuffs for the sleeves which made them just the right length but I should have extended the body of the dress by a couple of inches as it is rather short!

I have some more of the linen-look cotton fabric in a lovely shade of Blue and I plan to make it up into the Merchant & Mills Dress Shirt pattern. But before I do that I need to use some fabric from my stash – the Simplicity 2245 pattern includes a simple top which I shall make to co-ordinate with Spring trousers.

full length        neckline

                       Full length view                                                   Close up neckline yoke

sleeve hem & pocket

sleeve hem & pocket

Merchant & Mills Dress Shirt II

In an effort to reduce the amount of fabric in my stash I promised myself that this year, for each new length of fabric purchased and made up, I would also use a length from my stash Having used new fabric for the Walkaway Dress meant that I needed to plunder the stash for a length to sew into another garment. The lovely linen-look fabric that I purchased in anticipation of using for a Merchant & Mills Dress is waiting patiently in the pile and I decided to make just one more “test” garment before cutting into the linen-look fabric. I chose a length of Terracotta fabric, fibre content unknown, but most likely a polyester/viscose blend, which has a slight rib in the weave. The drape was good and I set to and cut out the dress. Whilst laying out the fabric and checking notions, thread etc, I happened upon a fat quarter of quilting cotton in a batik/marble print – just the right colour to use for a contrast bib. I made a minor adjustment by reducing the depth of the scoop neckline – only by a ¼ inch but it may be enough to help prevent “gaposis”. I also adjusted the angle of the shoulder seam. As the 22 was plenty big enough, this time I have drafted to a size 20. The first step of making up the dress is the bib, this time instead of straight top-stitching on the centre seam, I used a decorative stitch which echoes the randomness of the marble/batik print fabric. The dress went together quickly and well, all seams are overlocked and hems are top-stitched. Having completed the second version of the M&M Dress Shirt I am confident about progressing with the linen-look version. Watch this space……

101_5775   m&m II

Stuart Hillard Challenge

During the process of making the Paris Market bag we needed to cut quarter circles from the outside pocket sections to provide access to the pockets. Stuart’s challenge was to incorporate those quarter circles into another project. Below is my entry.

I stitched two quarter circles together twice, to make two half circles which I then quilted in a “fan” shape. I made an oblong shape to fit across the bottom of the two fan shapes which was channel quilted plus a long length with zip fitted to go around the outside edge. I made two generously gathered frills to delineate the shape of the fans and the whole was lined with plain cotton fabric.

I can use the fan-shaped clutch as an evening bag or keep in the bathroom with toiletries ready packed for when I stay away from home.

no 2 sepia

no 2b sepia

no 3 sepia       no 4 sepia

Stuart Hillard Paris Market Bag-making Workshop

Following on from the evening with Stuart, the next day was dedicated to making a version of Stuart’s “Paris Market” Bag.

Prior to the workshop Emma of Franklins, Salisbury had sent out a requirements list and as a big change from my usual soft pastels or bold brights, I purchased a selection of printed cottons from a French General-style range in shades of Taupe and Mushroom. At the time I had thought that the yardages were high but that was before I realised that the finished bag would be a generous size, approximately 19” wide x 18” deep. There would be 4 external pockets plus a large internal zipped pocket. The workshop started at 10am and we worked through until 4pm by which time my bag was almost completed. It was a lovely day, shared with like-minded ladies and I picked up many hints, tips and tricks which I will be able to utilize in my other projects.

Over the weekend I have finished the bag apart from a large covered button which is on order. I am delighted with the bag and feel sure that I will be making some more as gifts. Perhaps I might even make another and visit a market in Paris!

101_5784 sepia

An Evening with Stuart Hillard

On Wednesday 8th April, Franklins of Salisbury hosted “An evening with Stuart Hillard” which I attended. Stuart was a contestant in the first ever series of The Great British Sewing Bee and for two hours in the evening we were regaled in his inimitable and unique style about his experiences with TGBSB, how he became a contestant in the series, what he had been doing prior to his appearance on TV and all about where he is today. Stuart had brought along some copies of his newly published book “SEW Fabulous” which I bought and Stuart kindly signed for me. The evening was in effect an introduction as I was booked to attend a bag-making workshop with Stuart the following day. More of that to follow….

08-04 Caroline & Stuart Hillard

Stuart & Caroline at Franklins, Salisbury

stuart's book

Stuart’s Fabulous book!