Monthly Archives: October 2017

AMY by STYLE ARC patterns

I received an e-mail advising that there would be Arc Style printed patterns available on special offer at Amazon.UK. I often browse the Arc Style site and decided to check out the sale offerings. I was particularly interested in the Amy design as this has a handkerchief hemline combined with a cowl neckline, two style ideas that I have been wanting to try for some time. The printed pattern arrived yesterday and today I made a ‘wearable toile’ of the design. I used roughly 2 yards of 60 inch wide ‘shimmery’ printed jersey bought in June from Minerva Crafts for £8.97.

It was an interesting experience. The pattern is printed on good quality paper and having checked the measurements, I reduced the sleeve length by 3 inches. Other than that I made no changes to the size 22 pattern.

Seam allowances are only ¼ inch which means there is no wastage but you do need to be careful when clipping the notches. The pattern markings are sparse and in the case of the collar, some are missing. The text on the collar is particularly confusing, as there is no layout diagram I cut two of the pattern piece before realising that only one is required.

The construction information is also very basic. The text for applying the cowl collar to the neckline differs from the diagrams which for a beginner dressmaker would be very confusing. Fortunately, I now consider myself to be of intermediate level when sewing with jersey fabric. I ignored the written instructions and applied the collar in the same way that I would a neckband, i.e., stitched the centre back seam then folded in half wrong sides together and attached to the neckline with the overlocker. The seam allowance was then machined down on the outside with a row of stitches 1/8 inch from the original overlocked seam. The sleeves were inserted flat before the side and sleeve seams were stitched in one go. I did not leave the side seam hem vents as I particularly did not want the sides ‘flapping about’.

I turned up the sleeve hems by 1 inch and stitched with a twin needle. The sleeves are now at 7/8 length which suits me fine. The bodice hem was turned up by 1/2 inch and stitched in place with a twin needle.

Overall the fit is good except that once again by not making a full bust adjustment, the front bodice is pulled up so next time I will add to the front hemline.

A skimpy cowl collar

Having read the pattern reviews I must agree that the cowl neckline is nowhere near as full as the drawing suggests. I shall re-draft a cowl that is closer to the one offered in New Look K6412.

The top will look good over plain Black trousers, ideal for a casual evening out over the Festive Season. I have approximately 1 metre left to make a basic tee top-I might try a hack of the bodice of Butterick 6754 which has the lovely raglan sleeves.

Coordinating Coat Hanger

First thing this morning I went into the sewing room and saw that I had a large rectangular remnant from the recent wrap bodice dress. As this is a jersey fabric I have also noticed that the dresses often fall off the slippery coat hangers. Ah ha! I will make a coordinating coat hanger for my dress.

I now have the construction down to a fine art but Idid not have a co-ordinating zip handy. Hmmm….I know, I will use some KAM snaps on the opening. All went very well until I came to apply the very last component of the snaps. It took three attempts to get a popper to set correctly. But all done now.

Front of Coat hanger

  Reverse showing KAM poppers

Despite the trials and tribulations with the last KAM popper, the coat hanger cover took less than 1 hour to complete. I have hung the dress on its very own coat hanger and am immensely pleased with myself!

Lapped Collar Knit Top – Butterick B6388 Hack

I bought this pattern for a lapped collar top or dress, waterfall waistcoat and elasticated waist trousers back in March at the Sewing for Pleasure Show, NEC Birmingham. Since then it has been tucked into the pile of sewing patterns and had been temporarily forgotten. Then Sian of Kittenish Behaviour mentioned it in her vlog and I made a search for my copy. I had a length (the last off the bolt) of Winter-weight jersey that I bought from Franklins in Salisbury and thought this would be ideal for use as a wearable toile.

Having prepared the pattern and fabric I then discovered that I had too little fabric to make the top (view C). A little bit of ‘hacking’ was required. Out came my collarless version of the Paola top with the shaped hemline, which I traced onto fresh paper. I overlaid the pattern pieces from Butterick B6388 and a new version was born. I had to seam the collar piece rather than lay on the fold and also add cuffs to the sleeves as they were cut short. However, I have managed to get this top out of the 1.3metres of fabric that cost a grand total of £4.50 (I had received a 10% discount).

Construction was simple and straight forward. The top took just over 1½ hours to stitch and that takes into account the fact that this was a first time using the pattern. The only criticism I have to make is that the collar is a little baggy at the back – unless I pull the top forward and down at the front so that the collar then hugs the back of my neck. This may be due to the centre back seam in the collar or the stretch in my fabric. I am sure that I can resolve the issue next time. I do plan to make this style of collar again but think I will transfer the design to the neckline of New Look K6412 version A that has the asymmetrical hemline.

Dartmouth Wrap Top Hack into a Dress

Original Dartmouth Wrap Top Design

I have made Cashmerette’s Dartmouth top several times and every time it has been a success. Since the Spring of this year I have been wanting to make a wrap dress and when this fine dark background jersey floral print came to the top of the stash pile I decided to hack my favourite wrap top pattern.

The fabric came from Abakhan in North Wales and cost the grand sum of £6.38 so even if the dress was a disaster then I would not have wasted yards of expensive material.

Cashmerette have the following to say about the pattern:- Dreaming of a pattern that is casual and chic? Look no further than the Dartmouth Top! This cross-over jersey top comes with two variations—a classic fixed wrap or modern ruched front—and features three sleeve lengths and a gape-free banded neckline. Whether made in a cosy sweater knit or slinky silk jersey, the Dartmouth is the perfect partner for your favourite pair of jeans!

I can certainly vouch for the gape-free banded neckline which is one of my favourite features of the top. I usually make the classic fixed wrap style and this is the style that I used for the hack. I folded the bodice front and backs just below where I calculated the waistline to be and cut across. As I was a little tight on fabric I then cut two widths of the fabric at 24 inches long to make a gathered skirt. Whatever was left, I used to make the sleeves as long as the fabric would allow.

My Dartmouth Wrap Front Dress

Construction was, as usual, straightforward. Stitch the shoulders, add the neck banding, insert the sleeves, sew side seams from the waistline up and along the underarm seam. I stitched the side seams of the skirt panels (no pockets this time) and then ran 2 rows of gathering stitches at the top. The fine jersey was easy to gather to fit the waistline of the bodice. This seam and all other seams were stitched with the overlocker. Now all that remained was the hem on the sleeves and around the skirt. Once again I used the technique of a long basting stitch at the fold line of the hem before using a narrow twin needle to finish. Apart from the cutting out, the dress took just 2½ hours to sew. It is extremely comfortable to wear and fits well although it could do with being a little shorter on the back bodice, a note for next time.

As the fabric has been in the stash pile for nearly a year does this count as stash-busting?

New Blue Dress – McCalls K6754

I am a subscriber to the vlogs produced by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour. Sometime ago Sian raved about this pattern which I purchased on her recommendation. The pattern has been sitting in my stash awaiting fabric inspiration and today that inspiration arrived.


McCalls K6754                                                       Line drawing

The 3 metres of pretty Dusky Blue printed Ponte was purchased from the Textile Centre back in the Spring. Having checked the measurements on the pattern envelope I dived straight in and cut View D in a size XXL. I extended the skirt length by 4 inches and reduced the sleeves by 3 inches. It turned out that the skirt length was just right but the sleeves were now ¾ length – but that’s OK. When I make the dress again, I will simply let down the tuck if I want long sleeves.

I took very little notice of the layout and instructions other than to set the bodice panels on the bias grain. Only later did I realise that this was for if you were making a garment with stripes- in my case it was not necessary! There is a background of sketchy lines in the print and it has worked out well on this occasion.

As overlocked seams are very difficult to unpick, I decided to stitch on my sewing machine using the ‘lightning’ stitch at stitch length 3. I set up so that all the seams would be at the standard 1.5cms and constructed the dress according to the instructions. At first fitting I was concerned that the neckline was coming out quite low, the sleeves were wide and the front waistline was approximately 2 inches too high (I had not done a full bust adjustment!). There are a couple of occasions where I did my own thing. I do not like necklines where you turn the fabric to the wrong side and then stitch down. I much prefer a neckband. I cut a 2 inch wide strip from the width of the fabric and used my TNT method to apply. This brought the neckline up to a more comfortable level but next time I will trace the pattern and raise it by 1 inch.

Close up of Bodice showing Neck band & bias cut of background lines

The front bodice will also need to be adjusted although at present the weight of the skirt is helping to keep it nearer to my natural waist. The back waistline is about 1 inch too low as I had made no adjustment for my sway back! This will be corrected when I trace off the pattern.

For the hems on the sleeves and the (very) full skirt I used a new procedure as demonstrated recently on The Sewing Quarter. Using a long basting stitch I sewed a guideline for where the fabric should be turned. This took away the need for masses of pins as the fabric naturally turns on the stitching line. I set the twin needle and by checking the location of the raw edge by feeling with my finger, I was able to stitch from the right side so that the edge was enclosed in the zig-zag stitches on the reverse.

At final fitting I was still a little unhappy about the bagginess of the upper sleeves. I therefore unpicked the underarm seam and re-stitched, taking in a total of 1 ¼ inches from the upper bodice seam and upper part of the sleeve seam, grading to nothing about 2 inches from the sleeve hem.

McCalls K6754  in Blue Ponte Roma

I am happy with the dress and will definitely be making it again. Next time I will remove the centre back and centre front seams on the bodice, cut on the straight grain, adjust the lengths as required, slim down the sleeves and keep the additional length on the skirt. Depending on fabric availability I may have to use a different skirt pattern as a full circle is very fabric hungry. I think I may have sufficient of the Sunset Roses Ponte in my stash to make version 2 or perhaps the Grey snakeskin print that I bought at the NEC in March. Watch this space!

Peek-a-Boo Pouch

Pouch closed

During a recent visit to a friend she showed me a project made from a free pattern on the Craftsy website. This Peek-a-Boo Pouch is very different to other projects and at the same time offers another opportunity to use some clear vinyl. I had to try out this project as I felt it could be a contender for Christmas gifts to friends and relatives. I decided to use a fat quarter of a pretty pink cotton printed with poodles and various other motifs.

Now, I am a pretty confident stitcher but I did not find this pouch particularly easy to sew. Firstly, I had difficulty stitching the zip to the clear vinyl and in the end had to bind the edges of the vinyl to provide a good base for the feed dogs on the machine. Secondly, I could not work out which part and why, the KAM popper should be inserted at this stage, to the straight end of the pouch. This all became clear when the pouch was all but finished and to apply the KAM popper was made very difficult as virtually all the seams had been stitched. As demonstrated by my friend, the ends of the zip are enclosed in the outer seam of the pouch which does not make for the neatest of finishes. Next time I will apply binding at the ends of the zip. I think that my measuring of the vinyl pockets must have been off – the line of dividing stitches for the slip pocket shows through onto the outside front of the pouch and it does not fold into 3 quite the way that it should. Finally, the instructions advise to leave a gap in the curved end of the pouch to facilitate turning through but then it is more difficult to get a neat curve on the finish. Next time I will leave a gap in the straight end of the pouch.

Pouch opened out

That being said I believe that the concept of the pouch is very good.I fully intend to make another and incorporate various features that will improve the final project.

12 Blade Dresden Plate Cushion Cover

I am in the home straight of preparation for classes. I have completed the final sample being the above 12 Blade Dresden Plate block. I have chosen these ‘chunky’ blades and only 12 of them so that students can achieve a patchwork block quickly. If like me, they find themselves ‘hooked’ on this block there will be time to try more intricate blocks with many more blades.

For this cushion I again visited my Green-themed scraps. I am particularly pleased that once again I ‘fussy cut’ the butterfly motif on the centre. The patchwork was appliqued onto Natural-coloured calico and backed with some 2 oz polyester wadding. I echo quilted around the block before adding some coordinating narrow piping. I used a 16 inch polyester-filled pad for the cushion cover which has an envelope closure and measures 15 inches square.

Getting Ahead with some Simple Sewing

As I gradually worked my way through the list of samples required for classes I took a little time out to make a couple of basic items that will go into my stash for gifts.

I have made a 16-blade Dresden Plate cushion cover and yet another padded coat hanger cover with concealed pocket. Both items are enjoyable to stitch and make use of remnants of fabric (of which have masses!!).

The cushion cover with patchwork takes a little longer but I am delighted with the end result. I especially like the fact that I ‘fussy cut’ the butterfly for the central circle.

For sewing the the coat hanger cover, I now have this down to a fine art and if I exclude the additional zipped patch pocket on the reverse, this project now takes less than one hour to complete.

Materials requirement is minimal – one wooden coat hanger, one Fat Quarter, same of wadding and a long zip (taken from my stash). I have ordered more plain wooden coat hangers and intend to review my FQ collection so that I can get a head start on Christmas gift-making!

Zip Top Window Project Bag

Some time ago I made a ‘trial’ version of a zip topped bag that had a ‘window’ at the front so that it was easy to see the contents of the bag. I have found the bag to be very useful and wanted to refine the project.

Original window project bag

The original bag size had been defined by the size of the vinyl (shower curtain remnant) used for the window but as I now have metres of clear vinyl I could make the bag to whatever dimensions I wanted.

I wanted the finished bag to be approximately the same size as a piece of A4 paper so that if the project had written instructions, they could be included in the bag without being folded. After a false start when I made the window much too big with bindings that were too narrow, I did eventually come up with the correct dimensions to have the finished bag the size that I wanted.

A4 sized window project bag

Due to the ‘trial and error’ nature of construction I have not timed myself for this bag but now that I have the correct cutting dimensions I intend to make another to check the time required to make this project.


Dresden Plate Decorated Peg Bag

Apart from last week, it is a long time since I made peg bags. Here is the latest version which is the result of some research and the desire to make things simple enough for the project to take no more than 1 hour to complete. I still wanted to incorporate some form of decoration in the form of a patchwork block or applique but the construction needed to be easy and by using the ‘envelope’ method I have achieved this.

For this ‘trial’ version I used yet more ‘re-cycled’ calico (previous toile of dressmaking) and a selection of cotton print scraps for a half-dresden plate block. The child-sized hanger was Green and I co-ordinated the patchwork in this colour. The binding was a strip of poly-cotton sheeting left over from making a duvet cover.

The peg bag did take just an hour to complete. More versions may well find themselves wrapped as gifts, meantime I will be using this design when teaching a class at New Threads Quilt Shop.