Sunday, 11 November 2018

Gingers - finally


Last Christmas my Hubby bought me the Closet Case Ginger Jeans pattern. Ever since then I have been on the lookout for some stretch denim of a decent weight. I finally got my hands on 2m while at #sewupnorth at the end of September. This is an inexpensive denim and it does show. I don't think these will last too long but for the first experiment, I didn't want to spend a lot of cash, just to have a failed project. But these are a success and they will get worn  -  a lot!


It's the first time I've attempted fitted/ skinny jeans and the stretch fabric does really make a difference. this denim has about 20% stretch and I was unsure at first how the stretch would affect fit. I thought these might bag out really quickly or be super tight like jeggings. however I've worn these for a couple of days and they have softened quite a bit and relaxed, but are still comfy. The creases are from a day's wear.

I decided that I didn't want a skinny leg and fancied some flared jeans, so I added width from the knee to the hem, making the inseam about 33 inches in length. I have not sewn with a Closet Case pattern before and went solely by my size. I cut a size 8 at the waist grading to a 12 at the hip and leg. I assembled the front of the jeans and then basted the remaining pieces to assess fit. I did make quite a few changes before sewing up the jeans and topstitching.

Changes made:
1.5 cm from the side seams between the pocket opening and the fullest part of my hip. about 20cm in length grading to nothing at either end.
1.5 cm from the width of the thigh at the inseams. I also shortened the inseam by about .8cm front and back.
I took out at a total of 6cm from the CB at the top of the yoke. I didn't grade this quite evenly enough and ended up with a bit of a bump. I'll smooth it for next time.


This meant that my waistband was too long. I should have stretched it to fit a little more as it is still a tad too loose.

I used the sew-a-long on the Closet Case website which is a fantastic guide to sewing jeans and goes over some of the fitting issues and how to solve them.

I'm generally pleased with the fit of these and can see me using them as a starting point for my own designs. I chose the high waisted version, but it's not too high waisted at all, but then I do have a long torso. these are super comfy, even without a belt. There was no way my machine was going to handle 8 layers of denim in order to stitch the belt loops on - so I left them off. I can safely say that, despite a slightly loose waistband, these are the best fitting jeans I have.


I do think there is a bit of twisting on the leg, which I was quite surprised about as I cut out the fabric in a single layer and used a ruler to check that all my pieces were on grain. However, this isn't too noticeable and will not stop me wearing them.

Today I have them paired with my newest blouse, converse and a hand knitted cardigan (made for me by my sister in law - I can't knit).


Wednesday, 7 November 2018

This Dip was Lucky - Minerva review


My latest post for Minerva Crafts is up on their blog today.
I was sent one of their lucky dip packs to review and it's a bumper sewing frenzy. Lots of mu makes from this pack are getting loads of wear, especially the Ponte skirt and the undies.
Pop over and have a read of the full post here.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Hibernation Dress


AKA The hoodie dress from The Assembly Line.

This is my second version of this dress and I doubt it will be my last. I'm not one to buy patterns on a whim and as I have a large stash of Burdastyle magazines I often can find what I want within their many patterns. However, whilst on holiday in Devon in August I popped into The Natural Fabric Store at Rousdon. They had a beautiful selection of linens, cottons and denims and I bought a couple of metres of a batik cotton lawn, which I'm currently sewing up. I also noticed their selection of patterns and in particular, The Assembly Line patterns, which I'd not seen before and the hoodie dress caught my eye. As I'm an arch procrastinator I didn't buy the pattern there and then. I like to mull over whether or not a pattern is going to be of real use to me. After arriving home I just couldn't get the pattern out of my mind and bought a copy online from The Draper's Daughter.

Hoodie Dress by The Assembly Line.

Minerva Crafts had sent me some Denim, which I used for my first version, but I also decided I needed something a little softer for version number two. So while at #sewupnorth at the end of September I was on the lookout for some cotton sweat-shirting. I didn't find quite what I wanted but ended up buying some cotton baby cord from B&M fabrics. This fabric is soft and has the snuggle factor that I was after without being too heavy.


Once I'd finished my denim version (which you can read about on their blog soon) I started on my cord version. This pattern is very well drafted and the lay plans for fabric are precise. For many independent pattern companies I know I can get away with way less fabric than the pattern states. No so with the Hoodie Dress. It said 2.3m and that is exactly what you need. there is not much wastage at all - even more reason to use this pattern.


The Dress is essentially an A-line dress, brought into a cocoon shape by and encased wide elastic band at the hem. The same type of band is used at the cuffs too. I wasn't really sure about this part of the design and although I sewed the hem band I ended up not using it and adding a different finish there. Instead, I folded a narrow 1cm hem and topstitched it. I used two eyelets at the centre front and threaded an elastic cord through and used a toggle and beads to be able to adjust the length of the elastic. This gives the same shape to the dress as the original, but I think it's a more satisfactory finish. I much prefer it.


I also omitted the elastic cuffs and just sewed a band onto the sleeve, pleating the sleeve fabric to fit. Apart from these two changes I did not alter anything else about the pattern.


The pattern comes in a single size. I was worried about the fit before I sewed this up. I'd ordered a small based on my measurements and thought it might be too narrow across the shoulders. I didn't need to worry as the fit is perfect. The only changes made were those mentioned above.


I honestly think this pattern is a real keeper. with just a few tweaks and hacks it could be really versatile. I already have plans to make a summer version in linen, without the hood and with short sleeves. The bodice section alone would make a fab cropped hoodie in a cosy sweat-shirting and I think it would work as a tunic length too. Loads of options here.


However, as we approach the winter here in my little corner of Northumberland I think both this cosy cord version and its denim sister will be getting quite a few outings.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

My Wedding Dress...


...25 years on.

I always planned to wear my wedding dress for our 25th anniversary. But I knew I couldn't wear it in it's original form, so it was time for a refashion. The original dress was made by Laura Ashley and is a printed cotton. I really loved it and it seemed a shame for it to be hidden away in a box going yellow.


The plan was to shorten the skirt and change up the sleeve to something more contemporary. I have always been able to fit into my dress and this seemed like an easy refashion. However, after soaking and washing my dress at quite a high temperature to get rid of the yellowing stains, it had shrunk a bit and although I could still get it on. It would not have been comfortable to wear.

So a bigger refashion was needed. I have always loved fitted bodices and full skirts of the 1950's and wanted to keep the scooped neckline of the original dress. I also loved the back of the Gertie Sultry sheath dress. So after carefully taking the skirt apart, I used the B6453 princess seamed bodice and extended the bodice to include the shoulders and have the same scoop neckline. I overlaid the sultry sheath bodice back and found it matched almost exactly with the B6453.
I self lined the bodice and then added a knee length box pleated skirt to finish off the dress. The zip is a lapped zipper.


On our anniversary I styled my dress with a black net underskirt, black and white spotty kitten heel shoes and a beaded balck and white collar necklace. The evening was warm do I didn't need a coat, just a purple shawl to complement what my hubby was wearing.


We enjoyed a beautiful meal at the House of Tides in Newcastle.




I love my refashioned dress, but i'm not sure I have much call for a white dress, so I'm considering dying it. Some experiments are needed to see how the dye reacts to the printed cotton.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Cambie refashioned


A couple of years ago I made this Sewaholic Cambie dress. I know we don't see many around the blogosphere these days, but a few years ago, everyone was making it. I was drawn by the line drawings and the makes that I saw online.


So I jumped in and made it out of this fantastic IKEA fabric. The instructions were faultless and I finished this dress beautifully. fully lined - even I'm impressed with the finish I did on this dress.

It fitted fine, but there was just something off with it and I couldn't put my finger on quite what was wrong. Hence I have only worn it a couple of times and that is a waste! I've since decided that it's the proportions of the bodice that was wrong for me. The balance of the design just didn't suit my frame.


I considered sending it to the charity shop, but the truth is I love the fabric and the skirt part. I also had a small piece of the fabric left - just enough to create a basic bodice front. I found enough white cotton in my stash to make the lining. So inspired by "The Refashioners" Inspired by... theme I decided to remake this dress with a nod to 1950's style. and I just love the neckline on this dress worn by Audrey Hepburn, so this is what I aimed to recreate.


I took the bodice apart and carefully reused the back pieces and cut a new bodice front with bust and waist darts. I made a slightly extended shoulder to fit the original Cambie back pieces but widened the neckline to a boat neck. I used my self-drafted block for this.


Miraculously the new bodice fitted the waistband perfectly. I was expecting to have to do a bit of
adjustment, but not so. I attached the new bodice and lapped zipper by machine and then slip stitched the lining back into place.





I think this is a much better style for me and I think I might just wear it more than I did the last one.
(Photos were taken by my daughter whilst on a rather windy dog walk with Daisy our Wheaten Terrier)

Monday, 27 August 2018

On Sewing, Sustainability and Style


SOI Eve dress - All the spots. I love this one

I began sewing back in 2011 as part of my recovery from a stress-related illness. At the time it was one of two creative outlets I had, one was my art and the other was sewing. I sewed to make things that fitted and helped me feel good about myself. I really needed a sense of accomplishment.


My first make

Over the last few years, I continue to sew to make things that fit and I know that my self-image and esteem has improved as I no longer feel the need to fit into the box that the world would have me believe is in 'Fashion' or 'Style'. As a beginner sewist, I made simple clothes in nice fabrics and I have challenged myself to try more challenging things. However, recently I have felt uncomfortable that the sewing world is becoming just like a high street shop - just with better made and fitted clothes. I see the same patterns again and again as each new indie pattern gets an outing. Does every sewer in blogland own a Keilo Wrap dress, Ogden Cami, Kalle Shirt, Ginger Jeans or Lander pants, to name but a few!!!!!

I love this dress and I still wear it - even if it's a bit faded

Don't get me wrong - these are all great patterns (and I have a couple of them) and that's why they are popular. I thought quite a lot about buying the Ogden Cami and the Kalle shirt but have made my mind up that I don't want to jump on that bandwagon. I like the designs, sure I do, but they're not really me and I have other patterns that are similar but don't get as much airtime as these patterns. I still love the Colette Sorbetto and I hardly ever see it made in blog land these days. It's actually my go-to sleeveless top and I love it.

Eyelet Sorbetto top - still in rotation.

I think the point I'm trying to make is that we consume pattern after pattern and make constantly  - whatever is the next new sewing thing. The stash of fabrics increases and we create boatloads of waste pieces. I'm as guilty of this as the next person and I'm trying to fight against it. So I cancelled my subscription to Burdastyle Magazine - I have 6 years worth of magazines - more than enough to keep me going for a wee while. I also don't buy a pattern as soon as I see it. I like to consider if it's really me and if it's something I'll actually wear or I can make for others and I'll make more than once. Recently this means I didn't buy a pattern, which I really did like and now need to source as it's a foreign company and not easy to get here. Procrastination does bite me sometimes.

Pigs might fly - same style lines again. great print.
Big bold prints

I'm also more considered about the fabric I buy. I make a lot fewer trips to the cheap fabric stall on the local market and I buy less synthetic fabric than I used to; I take time over my makes (when I rush they go wrong anyway); I try to use patterns that I already own; I piece my scraps at the end of a project to make patchwork yardage - I'll be using these for some zero waste projects over the coming months. I'm trying to upcycle pieces that are a little unloved (i've just finished a Cambie dress refashion) and I'm trying to make only what I'll wear or make for other people.

A bold print and a full skirt

Then there's the other thing - Style. My style has changed a bit and I do sew more basics than I used to as I wear nearly all me-made clothes. However, I have an aesthetic I'm drawn towards, yet I find myself making things I just won't wear or that actually don't fit my style. I also make far too many occasion wear pieces and don't wear them very often.


One of my many party dresses - I've worn this twice, but love it.

This summer I've also found myself wearing slobby clothes, combat shorts and t-shirts - nothing wrong with that, but it's actually not my style.
I'm determined to identify shapes that work for me, colours that work for me and be willing to embrace the slightly odd side of my character a little more. After all, I'm an Art teacher I can get away with it.

I always get lots of compliments when I wear this one - It might be black but I love the style, nipped in waist and full skirt.

So here goes:
Dresses/ skirts - Fitted waist with either a full skirt or pencil skirt at knee/ midi length. Shift dresses Knee length.

The dress that nearly didn't make it. the fit was off and I lost patience with it.

Trousers - cigarette pants or wide-legged trousers - 50's style. Shorts not shorter than mid-thigh, culotte styles work well.

cigarette trousers - still need to perfect the fit.

Tops - boat neck, jewel neck or shirt neck. T-shirts, fitted with a curved hem, short or 3/4 sleeves. Sleeveless shirts and tops that can be layered or cap sleeves/ extended shoulders.
Knitwear - cardigans - lots, waist length, semi-fitted and 3/4 to full sleeves.
Casual - jeans - skinny or bootcut, mid to high rise. Hoody tops/ tunics. Black leggings.
Accessories - Tights -  as many different colours/ patterns as I can find - opaque; Jewellery - chunky and bright; scarves;
Footwear - mid-height Mary Jane style shoes - Bright colours. Flat ballerinas. Doc Marten boots - the chunkier the better. Converse all stars or similar.

Summer - it doesn't get much wear but I love it.  Self-drafted.

Fabrics - natural where possible; bright or black; unusual prints; no ditsy/ chintzy type prints; All the spots - every time. I try an avoid neutral colours except for black and white. and my colour palette is "spring" so most pinks and blues look good on me along with some greens. I have to be careful with reds near my face and orange is a no go unless it's part of a design with other colours.

In light of my list, I need to have a wardrobe clear out - time for a clothes swap.

Another Sorbetto top and this summer's winner - Burdastyle culottes with fabric gifted to me by a friend.


Sunday, 19 August 2018

Knit binding/ band tutorials round-up.

Recently I have had some issues getting good results from knit bindings when sewing with super stretchy knits. and decided to do a bit of research.

I have had three failed necklines - two have been boat neck pieces (one was this dress I made for a Minerva Crafts review) one is a dress I'm currently making from a super stretchy burnout velour knit and I've made a real pig's ear of the binding - so much so that my seam ripper and I have been good friends over the last couple of days. As I carefully take it to bits in the hope I can do something to make it work.

The third disaster was a raglan sleeve top.  The stupid thing is I have had some real successes in the past with neckline bindings. I have had some excellent results on my Gertie boat neck t shirt and a couple of knit dresses. I'm not sure quite where I've been going wrong lately and thought it would be a good ideas to find a selection of tutorials that are out there by great sewing bloggers who actually know what they are doing. I'm sharing this in the hope that I'm not the only one who struggles with this from time to time. If you have any brilliant insight into where I'm going wrong, or have a preferred method - please get in touch I'd love to get this nailed.

Craftsy Blog



Craftsy Blog has a brilliant post offering several different techniques written by Emily Thompson. I have tried both options 2 and 3 from this post. Some times they work perfectly and other times they don't. You can read this post here.

Megan Nielsen


This method encloses all the raw edges and gives a very neat finish. I've used this on a cotton jersey dress with good success, but it's when I use a boat neck that the issues seam to occur with this type of technique. Megan's instructions are really clear. This is a great post with lots of clear photographs to help you alone the ways.

Simple turned edge - Grainline Lark Boat neck


I have used this technique on my ruffle dress for Minerva crafts and it worked beautifully. Jen explains a really simple way to finish the neckline - and it's easy; Take a look! Do we sometimes make knit bindings more difficult that they need to be. I might do this on the dress I'm currently making. I have had a good bound finish on a boat neck, but it was a much more stable knit. What are your experiences here

Colette Blog

This post covers some of the key basics between bands and bindings. Again I've used some of these on round neck pieces and they've worked brilliantly. This is a great post for a beginner to knit sewing as the post is comprehensive. You can read it here.

Made By Rae - invisible finish binding.


This post is the closest to the one I tried for both boat neck pieces - with one significant difference, I cut a 90% neckline and Rae suggests that the binding should be the same size as the neckline as it's flipped to the inside. This might be where I've been going wrong. What's your experience of this technique? Do you think this could be where I've been going wrong? I might try this version.

Pattern Fantastique - Neckband techniques


This post by Heather is a comprehensive post and covers how different types of fabric might behave in addition to techniques for a neckline band.

So what is your favourite technique for neckline binding? do you have a method that works without fail every time? if so I'd love to hear about it.

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