Monthly Archives: January 2018

Scrap-Busting Plantain Tunic Top

At the end of making the Dartmouth Dress hack using this charming printed Ponte from The Textile Centre I had approximately 70 cms left over. What to do with it?

In my stash I had recently discovered some remnants of plain Ponte in various shades of Teal, Red and Black. There was just sufficient of the Black colourway to make sleeves and I would use the printed Ponte for the body of a Tunic. Originally I had thought I would trial yet another raglan sleeve top but decided against that as I really wanted to be assured of a successful outcome for this final piece of Floral/Shutter border print. So yet another version of the Plantain Top by Deer and Doe it was to be.

I laid out the bodice front and back and cut them as long as possible from the printed ponte, followed by the sleeves and neckband from the plain Black ponte. The only adjustment made to the pattern was to raise the centre front of the neckline by 1¾ inches as previous versions had finished up dangerously low!

Construction was plain-sailing. I have left vents at the side seams and the final version has a high/low hem with the front being slightly longer (to accommodate my bust).

The completed garment looks great worn with Black skinny jeans or leggings.

3rd Dartmouth Dress Hack – Border printed Ponte

This is the third Dartmouth Dress hack that I have completed and once again I count it as a success!

For this iteration I used 3metres of Single Border Floral/Shutter print ponte from The Textile Centre at £3.59/metre.

I cut the skirt from the main floral border leaving the shutter print for the bodice, sleeves and neckline banding. I still have approximately 70 cms remaining, sufficient to cut the front and back bodice for a raglan-sleeved top with plain Black ponte for the sleeves and neck banding. So in the final accounting I will have achieved a dress and a top for the grand sum of £10.77 – can’t be bad!

I love, love, love, sewing with ponte. It is such a stable knit and behaves almost like a woven.

I already had notes for cutting across the bodice at waist height, plus the length required for the skirt. This time, I did remember to add pockets. I used my TNT pattern so that the pocket tops are stitched into the waist seam which prevents them from flapping about too much inside the dress. The length of the skirt means that the dress can be worn with flats, heels and boots. Apart from top-stitching the band and hems, the entire dress was sewn on the overlocker. 

My only concern when making the dress was the fact that as it was a border print, the maximum stretch is actually down the length i.e. not across the bodice which is where I would have preferred. But no great shakes, it still turned out to be a comfortable garment.

For the photograph I have added my wide statement belt which has the advantage of covering the seam and helping to pull into my waist – n.b. I have now lost sufficient weight to be able to use the next hole along to buckle up. Great!

Super Sequinned Tunic – Deer & Doe Plantain

In the previous post I mentioned that I had some small sequinned jersey fabric bought from Fabricland at just £1.79/m I cannot praise this fabric highly enough. It sewed like a dream!

Hot on the success of the Aubergine jersey trousers * made from Simplicity 2289, I have now completed the ensemble with a co-ordinating tunic top.

The previous endeavour with the Plantain top by Deer & Doe was not a great success but I could see that there was great potential and having made a few adjustments to the pattern I set about making my second Plantain.

To begin with a cut a bodice front and back from the Aubergine jersey as I could see that the sequinned fabric was too fine to be worn without something underneath. I cut the pieces with a 4 inch extension to the length.

Having stabilised the shoulders, I stitched with the overlocker and then top-stitched with the twin needle. I then sewed up the side seams leaving an 8inch opening each side for the hem vents.

I tried on this ‘lining’ to check fit and it was ‘just right’.

Now onto the sequinned jersey. Having learned from the previous sequinned fabric, although there was a lot more stretch in this particular fabric, I cut a little extra width on the bodice front, back and sleeves.

Next step was pinning the lining at the neck edge and armholes. I had put the tunic onto Dolores the mannequin and it made this task much easier. The two bodices were then basted together.

For the neckline binding I repeated the trick of using the non-sequinned selvedge area cut 2 inches wide x the length required for the neckline. The binding was folded in half and stitched to the inside of the neckline before folding over the raw edge and top-stitched in place. A very neat finish.

As before, the sleeve seams were stitched and inserted into the armholes. I was able to use the overlocker and the insertion went like a dream. Love it when that happens! 🙂

The sleeves have a narrow single-turned hem stitched with the twin needle but I have left the hems on the lining and tunic front and backs as raw edges. The length of the lining has been trimmed to approximately ½ inch shorter than the sequinned overlay.

I am absolutely delighted with how this top has turned out – I originally purchased 3 metres and there is about 20 cms left. So a beautiful evening tunic for less than £10.00!

My new  Sequinned Plantain Tunic Top

* In my previous post I stated that the jersey for the trousers and lining of this top came from Minerva Crafts. Unfortunately this is incorrect. The fabric came with a massive haul bought online from Fabricland. As far as I can tell it is no longer offered on their website but I am pretty sure it was the same as that offered by Minerva Crafts and detailed in the previous post.

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…..