Monthly Archives: December 2020

‘Jane’ Pinafore Dress

I love Jane Austen novels, have read all of the novels and seen all the film adaptations of her books. The costumes from the films (excluding those from the Hollywood version staring Laurence Olivier) inspired me to make a Pinafore Dress based (loosely) on the style of that period.

I purchased a copy of the Romantic Era Dress Pattern from but unfortunately have not been able to print off the pattern to scale. I am not particularly ‘au fait’ with Adobe so need a friend to help sort out the problem.

Meantime I tried the Hughes dress pattern by the Friday Pattern Company. I successfully printed the pattern and prepared size 1X at the bust grading to 2X at the waist and hips. I cut a calico toile of the bodice and tried it for fit. Haha! Not a good look. It is a very long time since the apex of my bust was that high and there was a lot of excess fabric over my upper chest. To alter to fit would take a lot of time and energy that I was not prepared (at the moment) to expend.

Third try – I took my basic TNT bodice pattern and hacked it! I removed darts and added Princess panels to front and back. I also extended the front bodice shoulder over onto the back bodice and made a diagonal seam line similar to those in the line drawings of the Romantic Era pattern. I made my second calico toile. Success – a reasonably good fit.

Now I could proceed with the project using some Navy needlecord from my stash that I have had for many years. I would use some pretty floral printed viscose that came from JJTextiles (an incorrect print that was later corrected with the print I had ordered) for the lining of the bodice and binding of the seam allowances.

I first made up the bodice lining to double check the fit. Still all OK so on with cutting the Navy needlecord. Taking particular care to ensure that the nap ran down the fabric on every pattern piece I stitched the bodice before attached the lining. I particularly like the way that the nap runs in opposite directions at the diagonal shoulder seam.

There is under-stitching around the armholes and neckline and front closure which would be completed with some ½ inch 4-hole buttons from my stash.

Now onto the skirt. To begin with I cut 2 widths of fabric by 34 inches long and planned on making pleats with concealed side seam pockets set underneath the pleats. However, I could not get the pleating just how I wanted it so reverted to gathers. The leading edges and side seam edges of the front skirts were bound with the 1¼ inch binding made from the floral viscose before the pocket pieces were attached. The front pocket pieces are also in the floral viscose but the back pocket pieces are in the Navy needlecord. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly I did not have sufficient fabric to cut all pocket pieces from needlecord and secondly, by using viscose for the pocket lining I could reduce the bulk a little.

The side and centre back seams of the back skirt panels are bound in the floral viscose. I found that I had sufficient binding to run it around the outer edges of the pocket bags – just to complete the look!

I was most fortunate to find exactly the right sort of buttons in my stash – and plenty of them. There are a total of 13 buttons down the front of the pinafore plus a spare that is stitched to the inside. Buttonholes went like a dream until the very last one on the bodice. A couple of false starts and then they were all complete. Would you believe it, I had cut open all of the buttonholes except that last ‘rebellious’ one when the stitch ripper slipped and I cut through the end! A quick fix with zig-zag stitch and some “fraycheck”, I think it is OK now but not the best-looking buttonhole ever.

Now it was just the hem that remained. I bound the hem and turned up 2½ inches and decided to mitre the corner where the hem joins the front facings. It is a long time since I did this so took a little thinking before I got it right. A lovely finishing touch. The hem and facings were stitched in place using the blind hem feature on my machine.

The pinafore has just a nod to the styling of the Regency era and I am delighted with it.

Now I want to make a blouse from Ivory dobby viscose similar to the one in the line drawing and photograph from patterns to wear with the pinafore. First I must make up the long sleeved blouse and Jenna skirt that I have already cut out from the very last inch of the floral viscose fabric.

project #80 completed 27th December 2020

Sewing Socks!

Many, many years ago I knitted my one and only pair of handmade socks. I used a fine yarn and a set of 4 needles. The pair took a very long time to make! Using a FREE PDF pattern from Ellie & Mac made my first pair of fabric socks in less than 1/2 an hour! The socks are a great way to use scraps and perfect for giving! The pattern includes sizes for kids and adults.  

My first trial pair were made using a scrap of cotton jersey left over from a nightdress commission and had minimum stretch. Although the pattern actually calls for a 50% stretch, these still fit although a little over-stretched across the instep. (Completed 20th December 2020)

For the second pair I used some leftover cotton/spandex jersey bought from New Threads from which I had made KWIK SEW 3915 Top for a friend’s Christmas Gift. This pair are good but I think in future I will increase the length of the cuffing as otherwise I may get an indentation on my ankle.

The next pair were made from a remnant of Viscose Jersey bought from a shop in the Goldhawk Road and made into a Moneta dress. This is the most ‘stretchy’ of the fabrics I have used so far but also has a slightly synthetic feel so still not absolutely 10 out of 10.

For now I am leaving the socks behind whilst I get on with the ‘Jane’ pinafore dress that has been waiting in the wings for ages!

Projects: #77,78,79 finally completed 21st December 2020

Clamshell Patchwork Cushion Cover

Back in early March 2020 I gave a talk to the local Patchwork & Quilting group – Sprat & Winkle Quilters named after a local branch railway line. The subject was about Applique, Die cutting patchwork and Embroidery. I had many examples of work that I have completed over the years and at the end of the talk I gave everyone the chance to use my two die cutting machines. One of the dies used on the ‘Big SHot’ was ‘Drunkards Path’ which is a two-part die consisting of a 1/4 circle and an ‘arc’ which when sewn together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance will produce a block. The blocks can then be arranged in a variety of ways and I showed the faux clamshell arrangement.

Nine months later I have finally got around to quilting the sample and made up into a large 22 inch cushion. I am particularly pleased with the ‘echo’ quilting which was completed using a standard foot on my Brother 4000D machine. I simply used the edge of the foot as a guide to make quilting lines a generous 1/4 inch apart. The cushion now has pride of place on our Tan leather armchair.

Project # 76 completed 19th December 2020

Christmas Gifts

I still make just a few handmade gifts for family and friends at Christmas. This year I admit that I left it quite late!

Firstly was a redwork embroidered cushion using linen from my stash, embroidery motifs purchased from and finished with some red satin piping. I hand embroidered the running stitch circle enclosing the various motifs. This cushion was wrapped and posted to my pen pal in Germany. Apparently it arrived before the gifts that I had posted to UK recipients on the same day! But at least they did all arrive before Christmas.

Next I made a scented hanger in Christmas printed cotton that I then filled with a sachet of Christmas scents. The aroma was so strong that even when wrapped there was a powerful clue as to what was contained.

The final gift for a neighbour was a padded coat hanger cover and co-ordinating fabric scented hangers. The fabric came from a stash of fat quarters that I bought several years ago. The scented hangers were ‘essence of Provence’ which I thought was a good choice to match the style of the printed cotton fabric. The cover is made so that one can put items inside. An ideal storage for co-ordinating jewellery, scarves or tights for whichever garment is on the hanger.

Projects #73-74-75 All these items were completed by 16th December 2020

Spotted! – KWIK SEW 3915

Although the number of hand-made gifts that I give at Christmas is these days much less I still like to make a few. My friend of 18 years is a regular recipient of handmade tops. This year I repeated a previous make for her – the Kwik Sew 3915.

This pattern is for Pullover tops that are close-fitting. View A has full length sleeves and V-neckline with lapped collar that is gathered at front neckline with optional four decorative buttons and rouleau loops.

I previously made this pattern using View A back in December 2018 using a quilted cloque fabric and apparently it is still used today.

This latest version is made using some super cotton spandex jersey bought from New Threads Quilt Shop based just a couple of miles from my home at the Weyhill Fairground Crafts Centre.

The pattern had already been prepared in the correct size and construction was pretty straightforward although, as usual, I found the V-section of the collar particularly difficult to get exactly right. I omitted the rouleau button loops and buttons as they are purely decorative and with the weight of the cotton jersey would make that part of the collar particularly thick and clumsy.

I finished the hem of the sleeves and the body of the top with twin-needle stitching. The entire top had taken just a couple of hours to complete. I hope my friend enjoys this version as much as the original.

Project #71 completed 15th December 2020

Fraser Tops by Sewaholic

Christmas is fast approaching and as usual I wanted to make a new top as part of the gift for my sister.

I already have a version of View A of the Fraser top by Sewaholic that I made back in May 2018. The top has been a staple in my Spring/Summer wardrobe and I have received many compliments on it.

As I had a length of Navy with White stripe Ponte bought from Stitchy Bee in my stash I decided to use that to make new versions for both my sister and myself. For the contrast I would use some 40 inches wide floral textured Ponte that I recently purchased from an eBay seller for £6.99/metre.

According to Sewaholic the Fraser Sweatshirt is the perfect year-round layering piece! Slip it on over sports bras and knit tops, under jackets or wear it simply on its own. This semi-fitted pullover knit top features set-in sleeves, contrast options, and sleeve variations so you can customise it to best suit your wardrobe. View A has contrast yoke panels, a crew neckline and long sleeves. View B has three-quarter length sleeves. View C features a set-in collar contrast detail and elbow length sleeves. All views create a comfortable fit as you move through your day. This is a great project for beginners who want to develop their garment-making skills with no overlocker required! Banded hems are used to finish the sleeve and body for a professional, clean finish. 

This time around I would repeat the variations that I made before, i.e. add a contrast back yoke, shorten the sleeves to bracelet length without the cuff, lengthen the body of the top and make a twin-needle topstitched hem with no hem band.

I first laid out the floral fabric and discovered that the stretch was only in the length of the fabric and not the width. This could have been very awkward as it contradicted the orientation of the floral print. By making the yoke and shoulder contrast panels into full pattern pieces (normally cut on the fold) I was able to be much more precise in placement to avoid the ‘sideways’ look of the print.

Stripe matching! By the time I got to the cutting out of the second Fraser top I was beginning to regret having chosen a stripe. I persevered and in the final analysis the time taken to match up stripes was well worth it. The pattern matching was helped by the fact that the striped Ponte is a great quality which did go some way to assisting this delicate task.

In the previous version for myself I had changed the depth of the collar and having marked it up on the pattern pieces it was easy to finish off the neckline with a band. Initially I used the neckline as marked onthe pattern for Catherine’s top but having attached the neckband and top stitched I found it was far too small to even get over my head! I removed the neckband and re-shaped the neckline giving it a little more depth. A new neckband was added and now the neckline is much more roomy!

Two afternoons work resulted in a pair of matching tops. I have already ‘road tested’ my version which was fine and I hope that my sister will be pleased with hers.

Projects #69 and #70 completed 15th December 2020

Palm Leaves Print Skirt – Jenna #3

I love the two Jenna skirts from that I have made. The first was a Cotton printed with lemons, the second a woven viscose floral print on a Mustard background.

According to Seamwork magazine, separates can add great variety to any wardrobe, and a simple gathered skirt like Jenna effortlessly marries cute style and comfortable fit. Jenna’s elastic-back waistband and in-seam pockets make this skirt as practical as it is stylish.

I also love this particular printed viscose from Rainbow Fabrics of Kilburn, so I thought it would be a great match of pattern & fabric. This Khaki Palm Leaves print is just right for my Autumn/Winter wardrobe.

The post Moira #6 is all about the dress that I made using this fabric. Unfortunately there was a fault in the printing which meant that if I wanted to cut a skirt from the length I would have to be prepared to have some of the faulty printing included. I placed the pattern pieces so that the fault is at the top part of the back skirt panels. It is behind me so I can’t see it!

The colours within the print mean that it coordinates well with Khaki Green, Black, even Mustard and Gold.

This time I cut out the size 22 waistband but kept to the 24 for the skirt panels. The viscose fabric is very fluid so can take a lot of gathers. Again I added 6 inches to the length as I plan to wear the skirt with tights, shoes and boots.

All seams were overlocked and a narrow hem double folded before machine stitching in place. I added my TNT pattern for concealed side seam pockets and double fusible interfacing to the front section of the waistband. I reduced the length of the elastic for the back waistband casing. The elastic insertion was a little fiddly but it does give a comfortable and stylish finish to the skirt.

I have approximately 1.5 metres of the faulty printed fabric remaining and will have to think what to do with it. Meantime, the lovely people at Rainbow Fabrics have issued a credit voucher which I have used to buy yet more lovely printed Viscose.

project #68 completed 1st December 2020

Palm Leaves Print -Moira #6

The previous Moira dress was a great success and when I saw this lovely palm leaves print from Rainbow Fabrics posted by an Instagrammer I knew that I had to have it. I ordered 6 metres at £4.99/M and waited impatiently for the delivery.

Once received I immediately overlocked the raw edges and put the fabric into the machine for a quick & cool wash. Once the cycle was completed the fabric was placed on the airer to dry. As I was folding the length I noticed that there was a disparity in the print. There had obviously been a problem as 1metre in from the end the colour for part of the design was missing. The fault was approximately 1.5 metres in length before the printing returned to the correct colouration.

Fortunately I was able to cut out my Moira dress from the opposite end of the fabric and get on with the construction. However, it did mean that I was unable to cut out and make another Montana dress for my sister’s Christmas present.

Meantime, I contacted Rainbow Fabrics, sending them photographs of the fault. They were exceptional in their swift response and sent me a credit voucher for £40.

If you have not read any of my previous postings about ‘Moira’ she is a hack from the Hannah dress By Hand London and the Montana by Style Arc patterns. ‘Moira’ has short sleeves, a scoop neckline, bodice with side bust and under bust darts, a raised waistline, no buttons but a self-fabric ties set into the side seams of the bodice, gathered skirt with deep hem frill and concealed side seam pockets.

This iteration has a bodice lined with Black viscose voile that has facings cut from the fashion fabric. This is just in case the lining accidentally flips out. I also ran a line of top-stitching around the neckline ¼ inch away from the edge. I attached a skirt lining of viscose voile to the bodice lining and apart from the neckline and armscyes, the lining is free from the fashion fabric.

For the fashion fabric skirt I cut two panels 40 ins wide x 21 inches long. The frill is 3 x the full width of the fabric x 12 inches deep. Pleating for the frill was completed using my ruffler foot with settings at stitch length 4.5 and pleat every 6 stitches. The seams, including the pockets are overlocked. The sleeve hems and the hem on the frill are double turned and top-stitched in place.

I am absolutely delighted with this dress and have checked the Rainbow Fabrics website several times but unfortunately the Palm Leaves print is out of stock and I understand that it is not repeatable. Shame. I will have a think about the best way to use the remaining fabric whilst avoiding the mis-print.

Project #67 completed 23rd November 2020