About 15-20 years ago I used to enjoy making soft-bodied porcelain dolls and dressing them. Although most of the dolls have gone on to new homes, there are still a few that I have kept. When trying to get some order in the chaos that is my stash of fabrics I came across a pattern and a ready-cut-out dress for an 18 inch doll.
As two of my dolls were in dire need of new ‘frocks’ this seemed like a good opportunity to get at least one of them made up.
I have used this pattern as a starting point for many dolls clothes. Although working on a very small scale the sewing is straightforward and fairly easy to complete.
Stitching this dress was a pleasure and made for a very nice change to the trouser-making that is my current project. The seam allowance for dolls clothes making is 1/4 inch and most was sewn on my sewing machine with a little seam neatening by zi-zag stitching or on the overlocker. There are three buttons and buttonholes on the back bodice which makes it easy to dress the doll.
Now at least one of the ‘girls’ has a new dress, I will have to find some fabric for the other so that she does not become jealous!
I was so pleased with the ‘wearable toile’ of these trousers that I zoomed ahead and cut out my second ‘real’ pair using some pretty floral printed stretch denim that was purchased a couple of years ago from New Threads Quilt Shop, The Fairground, Weyhill, Andover.
For this version I again cut the 24 but made a note to increase the seam allowance from 1cm to 1.5cms. I also folded back the front faux fly so that the centre front seam would be uninterrupted and reduced the length of the pants by 1 inch. This time the construction was much quicker as I sewed up the pants using the same colour thread for construction and twin-needle topstitching. The internal overlocking was still in White.
As I had previously ‘toiled’ the trousers, I did not stop to fit, just ploughed ahead. It was only when I had finished that I joyfully tried on the pants and checked them out in the mirror.
Oh no! Due to the floral print on the stretch denim they looked like nothing more than a pair of pyjama bottoms!
When I showed the finished trousers to my husband, he just smiled. I will not be wearing these anywhere in public – they will be reserved for working in the back garden where no-one can see me.
So now it is onwards and upwards as I check out patterns for dungarees……
For me May is the month of ‘Blossoms and Bottoms’. By Bottoms I mean trousers, skirts, culottes and jumpsuits. Earlier this month I made a pair of trousers in Khaki Ponte Roma using a TNT pattern Butterick 6388 but I would like to find a TNT pattern for use with woven fabrics and maybe some different styles of bottoms!
To start my quest I tried the Texas pants by Style Arc. Inspired by the coloured sketch of the pattern I used some plain Navy poly/cotton in my stash that was originally a king size sheet.
I cut a size 24 which I believed would be ample enough for my rubenesque figure. The pattern pieces appeared small and fitted easily onto a small section of the sheet. There is a great deal remaining, perhaps sufficient to try out the Zadie jumpsuit.
Cutting out did not take long, nor the construction. What did take the time was having to switch from Navy construction thread to Twin needle topstitching in the contrast White.
The instructions produced by Style Arc are fairly minimal and also when printed out, one needs a magnifying glass to read them. To help me through the process I typed my own set of instructions with amendments/reference to my particular construction tips and tricks.
I made my usual adjustment to the curve on the back crotch seam, lowering by 1inch to avoid having a ‘hungry bottom’. I top stitched the faux fly but have decided against adding buttons which would draw attention to my tummy. Next time I will fold back the faux fly on the pattern piece and make a straight centre front seam. I used my preferred method of attaching the waistband and inserting the wide elastic into the casing.
Conclusion: If using a fabric with stretch I will definitely need to downsize. If using a non-stretch fabric I will make a size 24 again but take extra wide seam allowances, as this pair are more than roomy enough.
From the illustration I thought that the pants would be 7/8ths length but forgot to measure the inside leg so on me they are full length. Next time I will shorten the length to around 24 inches. I enjoyed myself on this slow sew and look forward to ‘making my way to Texas’ again in the near future!
I have now made the Libby shirt several times and am also ‘in love’ with the Cobra Corsage print design by Lady McElroy.
However, so far, I have only liked the print on a Cotton Lawn substrate. I have been disappointed in the quality and performance of the crepe jersey and the stretch twill in the Black background colourway that I used for a pinafore dress attracts fluff and ‘bits’ like a magnet!
I bought 2 metres of the Vanilla background cotton lawn from Sherwoods at a total cost of £32.79, back in February 2020 and have only now (inspired by Alex Judge on youtube) to cut into this precious fabric.
I was very undecided what to make but have finally bitten the bullet and cut the Libby shirt by Sew Over It. This time I was reminded by Alex to concentrate on pattern matching, thus avoiding repeats of the large main design motifs ‘marching’ across the front of the shirt. Although I took care to match up the centre front of the design for the front pattern pieces it has not worked, in any event at least I have avoided large motifs on the apex of my bust!
To ensure that the points of the collar had motifs on them, I cut the collar (both top and undercollar) in 2 parts so they have a centre back seam.
I had hoped to do the same for the lapels but unfortunately it did not quite work out. I therefore had to patch in a motif for the right lapel and am pretty pleased with the result.
The bodice pieces, yoke and sleeve cuffs were extended by ½ inch so that the ‘grown-on’ sleeves would be just a little bit longer. I also extended the length of the back bodice by 4 inches and the front bodice (and facings) by 5 inches whilst retaining the curve so that the hemline would be relatively level front and back without having to make a full bust adjustment.
Once again the collar and stand were fiddly and time-consuming but the effort has been worthwhile. I did go ‘off plan’ when it came to stitching the side seams by first separating the allowances of the cuff before overlocking the entire seam allowances. I am pleased with how that has turned out.
As mentioned by Alex, the grown-on sleeves do have a tendency to stick out and whilst I can live with this, I think that I will hack the pattern to have set-in sleeves for the next iteration.
Finally it came to the hem which was overlocked before turning twice and machine stitching in place before making a decision about buttons and buttonholes……I stitched the buttonholes with the same White thread that I had used in construction but could not find any matching Ivory buttons in my stash. My husband suggested picking a colour from the prints. I decided on these pretty textured Greeny/Teal-coloured buttons (the same as those used on the previous Libby shirt) and I think they work well.
Conclusion: Whilst I love the print design of Cobra Corsage in this Libby shirt iteration, I have yet to find a substrate that I am really happy with. I do find the cotton lawn particularly fine and although it presses well, as soon as you wear the garment it also creases a great deal.
I previously made up this pattern using some Chocolate Brown Ponte Roma from 1st for Fabrics back in November 2018. I am very glad that I kept my notes and that enabled me to run up these trousers in record time.
I purchased 3 metres of this Khaki polyester/spandex Ponte Roma for £21.60 from an eBay seller.
Checking the measurement chart on the pattern I decided to make the XXL size – I could always take the trousers in, better to do that than make them too small! I checked the length by measuring the inseam and it was fine so went ahead and cut out the pattern. After cutting out the pattern I found that I had a 1.34 metres remnant, this has been put aside and may be used to make a simple skirt.
First step was to baste in the pleats at the front, plus add the pocket bags. All straightforward. As I had made up this pattern before, I stitched all the seams taking a full 5/8ths inch seam allowance with a narrow zig-zag stitch set at 1.00 width x 2.5 length.
The fitting revealed that again I needed to deepen the curve on the back crotch by about 1inch. By grading back to the original seamline this did the trick so no longer a ‘hungry bottom’! I added the waistband and inserted the elastic. I turned up the hems and using a straight stitch length 3.0 on the sewing machine sewed up the hems with 2 rows of stitching ¼ inch apart.
I am very pleased with these trousers that have been in my plans since I purchased the fabric back in November 2020 and complete my ‘Spring Greens & Daffodils’ collection.