Pomegranate Cowl by Octavia Patterns

Have you heard there's a new pattern company on the scene? The lovely Jodie today launched the first pattern from Octavia Patterns. Octavia focuses on more modern styles and fashionable designs aimed at the workplace or for those wanting something different to the vast range of vintage inspired patterns we see so often. You could say they are more like what you will find in shops and the hope is the designs will be ones that will stick around for years rather than weeks. 

Octavia Patterns Pomegranate 3.jpg

The first pattern is Pomegranate - a fabulous cowl neck blouse with short kimono sleeves. I was fortunate enough to pattern test this little beauty. I'm a sucker for a cowl neck blouse especially when paired a black skirt for the office or a pair of jeans for a night in the local pub. Throw in kimono sleeves, no closures or darts, and the knowledge I can make this in an afternoon and you could safely bet that I would be hooked. 

Octavia Patterns Pomegranate.jpg

Pomegranate is very easy to make but you do need to take care during construction. As you might expect, it is cut on the bias so careful handling is a must to ensure you keep the shape and prevent a stretched neckline. That said, you can still whip this up quickly and if you're not sure about how to sew on the bias check out the blog section of Octavia's website where you will find some handy tips. The back neckline is finished with a bias facing and the cowl by folding the raw edge twice and stitching into place. This is about as fiddly as the construction gets.

Octavia Patterns Pomegranate 4.jpg

For fit, I did make a few changes - namely grading between sizes and also lengthening the waist by 1.5cm as I like my tops to be a little longer. Having worn this top a fair amount there is one more change I would make to my next version which is to add more width to the back - the side seams sit a little further back than normal for me. It doesn't take away from the comfort of the top but it is something I am aware of.

Octavia Patterns Pomegranate 2.jpg

This version is made from some delightful viscose from Sew Over It. It has a close enough weave to give a wonderful drape while keeping the cowl in place. My original version was in a poly satin which has a much looser weave and gave a much deeper cowl as well as some weird drag lines across my bust. The moral of this tale is to think carefully about what fabric you use - the poly satin version is still on my dress form wondering if it will ever be hemmed and worn. I doubt it will be unfortunately. In the meantime I will overwear this version - it works perfectly for the office or with a pair jeans for a lazy weekend or dinner out. 

Octavia Patterns Pomegranate 5.jpg

If you want to make your own version be sure to snap up the pattern this week as you'll get 20% off. I doubt you will regret it.

 

As a pattern tester, I received the final version of the pattern and I was under no obligation to post. 

Retro Swirl Fifis

Hello there. It's been a while again since my last post - I continue to be distracted by work and Adam and I took a little break to go to London. It was a lovely couple of days where we had lunch at the Shard with fabulous views and watched Wimbledon next to the river near Tower Bridge.

Tilly and the Buttons retro swirl Fifi Pyjamas.JPG

I took with me my latest pair of Fifi pjs. I have been wearing the Summer Rose pair almost constantly and that's usually a sign that a second make is needed. The fabric is a cotton poplin called Retro Swirl in Cerise Pink and comes from Minerva. I purchased it after needing a cheap midweek pick me up and the print is rather fun. I had thought that some of the swirls were blue and bought pale blue satin bias binding to match. When the fabric arrived I discovered that the swirls are actually purple but the colours still work together.

This pair demonstrates how much a fabric can change an item. This cotton is quite stiff and doesn't have a lot of drape, even on the bias. As a result the pjs don't move so well with with the body making them less comfortable. The shorts are worse than the top and added to the fabric, I think I stretched the elastic a bit too much. I'm hoping that a couple of washes will soften the fabric. 

Tilly and the Buttons retro swirl Fifi Pyjamas 2.JPG

I stitched this pair in quite an unfocussed way for the design. While finishing the shorts, I added bias binding the hem and liked the effect. This led to unpicking the top of the cups on the top to add binding there instead of just turning the fabric over and stitching into place. If you decide to add binding to this area I would recommend you do this before you've put the top together to make life easier for yourself. While the outside looks nice and neat, the inside is a little messy for my liking. Overall I think I prefer the full bias binding finish - it looks very clean.

Tilly and the Buttons retro swirl Fifi Pyjamas 3.JPG

I'm playing around with the idea of a more luxurious pair but that will have to wait - I have other greater needs for a summer wardrobe but I'll definitely be revisiting this pattern again.  

Summer Rose Fifi Pyjamas

Hello, there. I trust you all had a good weekend and made the most of the sunshine. It was lovely in Oxford and getting the suncream out for the first time was wonderful. In anticipation of the warmer weather and thinking about a summer holiday, my thoughts have wondered to my summer wardrobe and specifically night wear. I knew a lovely set of summer pyjamas were needed and when Minerva kindly got in touch to offer some fabric, I found the perfect match of pattern and fabric to create the Summer Rose Fifi pyjamas. 

Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pyjamas 4.JPG

The fabric is called Rose Floral and it is a cotton poplin. I was drawn to the pink roses which remind me of country garden and times gone by and this nostalgia only grow when I saw that the print had a vintage/tapestry look to it. The roses are set on a black background - not my first choice for summer but it does lift the pinks well. When I originally received the fabric I thought it would be too thick and not have enough drape to make Fifi but all my concerns were lost after prewashing and wearing these for a night. The poplin has all the properties of a good cotton - good weave, some drape, incredibly easy to cut, press and stitch. I loved working with it and love wearing it. I decided not to go with the self-binding that is included in the pattern and opted for a hot pink bias binding that was in my stash. I had originally opted for a pale pink to match the roses but my machine (for a reason I can't fathom) just ate it. The hot pink doesn't give the fully romantic feeling I was going for but brings a fun modern vibe to them. 

Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pyjamas.JPG

I took my time choosing which size to cut. While I love a lot of ease in my pyjamas, I also find a lot of them have too much around the hips for my liking. Based on the finished measurements I went for a 5-6-4 combination and it is largely spot on. I think I need slightly more room in the hips for when I'm pottering about on a lazy morning but they were fine to sleep in. 

Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pyjamas 2.jpg

For a such a small item, Fifi took longer to stitch than I anticipated. This is mainly because Tilly had the foresight to finish these with French seams (my favourite finish) and you need to handle the bodice more carefully than most of other makes due its bias cut. However, the extra effort for the seams and the binding is totally worth it - it gives you a make that is gorgeous on the outside as well as the inside. The suggested technique for adding the elastic to the shorts also ensures a good finish - you stitch the elastic to a raw edge, fold over twice and stitch in place encasing all the raw edges and stitches. Such a simple but effective way to achieve a smooth, polished look. 

Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pyjamas 3.jpg

I'm delighted with how this set turned out and this summer will see them being in high demand due to their comfort and prettiness. I may just have to make another pair to ensure these last! What's on your sewing table right now?

Note: The fabric for this make was provided by Minerva Crafts. Pattern purchased separately. 

The Ultimate Wrap Dress

For a few years I have been without a staple in my winter wardrobe - a wrap dress. When my last RTW fell apart, I had already begun to sew my own clothes and therefore didn't replace it. I figured I would make one but that involved picking up knit fabrics. Ah, knits. Apparently easy to work with but also fear evoking for some. I wouldn't say I have ever developed a fear of using knits, more I never found the time to read up on how best to approach them. Having a lot of spare time in between houses changed that and I finally dived into The Colette Guide to Knits. Suddenly my plans for a wrap dress jumped to the top of list for new year stitching.

Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress.jpg

My pattern of choice is Sew Over It's Ultimate Wrap Dress due to its classic design. I always note the month and the year I trace a pattern on the pieces (a quick helpful indicator in case my measurements have changed since tracing) and laying out the pattern pieces revealed I had the same plans last January but for some reason didn't get round to making the dress. The benefit of waiting a year means you can learn from other people's experience and I made a few tweaks to the pattern before getting my fabric ready. I raised the neckline a fair bit to ensure decent coverage and remove the need for a cami and lengthened the dress. 

Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress 2.jpg

With my new found enthusiasm and excitement to complete this dress, I chose to live dangerously and didn't make a toile. I thought about making one to help with my lack of experience in fitting knits. The thought stopped when I realised it's only fabric (and not made from unicorn eyelashes) and I could chalk up a failed dress to experience so I chose to hope that the slight stretch in the fabric would cover any areas that might have been too small. Turns out my risk paid off and this dress fits much better than I thought it would - in fact, just like the RTW ones I used to own and my initial alterations have worked perfectly. After wearing it for a full day, there are some additional tweaks I would like to make for my next version which is already planned. These include lengthening the sleeves which are a few centimetres too short for my liking, the shoulder seams need to come in, a smidge needs to be added to the back so the side seams sit where they should and I'll reduce the length of the ties - they are seriously long! 

Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress 3.jpg

I figured that this dress would get a lot of wear and I wanted to it be comfortable, cozy but smart. The fabric came from my stash is a beautiful petrol coloured interlock bought from the Village Haberdashery (other colours available here). The colour is very difficult to capture in the photographs and it has a strong green hue in real life. The quality is fantastic and is soft to the touch, wonderful to wear, and it ticks all of the boxes. There is a very strong temptation to never take it off! It is very stable with some stretch and was a perfect introduction to using knits (I like to start simple and build from there). The only issue I had with it was getting the neckline to lie flat once the facings had been added - a row of under stitching and a long press solved the problem. A very satisfying part of the project was how quick it was to make - I cut it out during an evening and stitched up in an afternoon. Who doesn't love a quick project? 

Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress 4.jpg

All of this gushing means I'm now off to prewash the fabric for my next version (which may or may not be some Art Gallery jersey I treated myself too). Have a great weekend everyone - is there something on your sewing table? 

Green Moss Mini

So after saying there will be delays, I'm back almost on time with a new post! Thanks for all your good wishes for the potential house. All is still going smoothly and I've now turned my attention to slowly packing up the flat in an attempt to avoid that pre-move crush. Well, that's that theory anyway! I've cleared out some of my patterns and fabric and this weekend will be tackling the monstrous mound of scraps that I seemed to have accumulated. I can't quite believe how much of a hoarder I have been with the scraps! If anyone has any sensible ideas of how I can clear them out, please let me know in the comments. Textile recycling seems to a winner at the moment.  

Grainline Studio Moss Skirt 2.jpg

Anyway, enough packing talk - I have my favourite self-sewn skirt to tell you about. This skirt started with the fabric. I popped into Darn It and Stitch hoping to bag a payday treat a few months ago and they didn't disappoint. I walked out with this gorgeous green cotton twill and plans to match it with the Moss Skirt by Grainline Studio, a pattern I had been meaning to buy for ages especially after seeing those made by Carolyn

Grainline Studio Moss Skirt.jpg

I wanted the twill to be centre stage with this make and kept it simple. I was very tempted to continue my obsession with edge and top stitching but it seemed too much. Instead, I kept it to the back yoke, pockets, waist band and at the hem. The twill washed well and construction was plain sailing as it behaved itself perfectly. It also a delightful fabric to wear although it crumples extremely quickly as you can see from the photos. As this was intended to be a summer skirt, I didn't line it. I'm starting to regret that decision a little as I would like to keep wearing it throughout the autumn but it sticks to my tights forcing me to constantly pull it away from my thighs - not a good look! Like many of us, I wanted some interesting pockets and chose this feather cotton fat quarter from my stash which also came from Darn It and Stitch. It's a shame you can't see them but it makes me happy to know they are there. 

Grainline Studio Moss Skirt 3.JPG

What surprised me most about the Moss skirt is the fact that I didn't need to make any changes to the pattern. It fitted right out of the packet without any excess around my hips - a standard problem for me. The length is that of the pattern and at the beginning I thought it was a little too short but I got used to it very quickly. The second surprise was putting in the zip. I have limited experience inserting a fly but this method was so easy and clear to understand. I'll definitely come back to it for future projects. I'm very tempted to make a winter version, lengthening it slightly and definitely lined. Another project to add to the list... 

What are your seasonal sewing plans? 

A Simple Nicola

Hi everyone, thanks for the great response to my Mary Poppins outfit. Fancy dress won't feature again for a long time, I suspect. Today, I have a very simple make to share with you. As I was slowly packing for our holiday, I realised that I didn't have enough dresses for the evening to take with me. I'm happy to spend most of the daytime in shorts or mini skirts with a tank top but I like to feel a little more put together for the evening. I don't have to look too smart, just a little more "normal".

Victory Patterns Sleeveless Nicola.jpg

I had a spare afternoon and decided to whip up a simple dress. I had been meaning to make another Nicola dress by Victory Patterns. I absolutely love the wrap and the shape of the skirt and I'm reminded just how much when I wear my original. However, the sleeves, despite being a lovely feature, can be a little cumbersome, especially if you want to wear a cardigan or jacket over the top. This time, I skipped the sleeves and I'm so pleased I did. This version works perfectly underneath a cardigan. I finished the arms with narrow white bias binding, a technique which has now cemented itself as my favourite way to finish arm holes. You can see how this dress came together in pictures here

Victory Patterns Sleeveless Nicola 4.jpg

In addition to being short on time, I was also feeling a little burnt out from my sewcation. This really affected the way I approached this dress. I decided not to line the dress, mainly because of the high summer temperatures. The hem is a narrow hem - simply overlocked, turned under once and hand stitched in place. This still gives me the opportunity of lining the skirt should I want to in the future without it being a lot of work. The fabric is a French crepe by Robert Kaufmann purchased from Barry's during last year's Sew Brum meet up. It is a fabulous fabric and I will definitely consider buying more in a different print for future projects. 

Victory Patterns Sleeveless Nicola 2.jpg

The bit that bothers me the most about this dress is the fit of the bodice. After taking forever to fit the first version, this one feels too big around the bust. It is one more indication that my needed pattern adjustments are changing and I have to accept the fact exercise has changed my body and I need to stop being lazy with the fit. If I want to repeat patterns I made over six months ago I will need to check the fit and be prepared to start over if necessary. I think I can get away with it with this dress as it is though. What do you think?

Victory Patterns Sleeveless Nicola 3.jpg

Despite my reservations over the fit, I love this dress. It has quickly asserted itself a "must wear each week dress". The crepe is delightful to wear, needs very little pressing after washing and dries incredibly quickly. The colours work across seasons and I can see me wearing this in the autumn with a slip underneath. Yay for versatile makes! Are you sewing this weekend? If so, what's on your sewing table?

Back to Pink: A Belcarra

Well, hello there. It feels a little bit like it has been long time, no speak as I took as I took a little blogging break to coincide with returning from my holiday. I’m back now and will be sharing with you the rest of the makes from my sewcation over the next few weeks with a fancy dress costume thrown in for good fun.

Long-term readers will know that I have an odd relationship with tops. For some reason, I can never find ones that I like. There is always something that puts me off buying or designing them – perhaps I’m just too picky? Anyway, an additional top, at the very minimum, was needed for my capsule holiday wardrobe and I chose to repeat Sewaholic’s Belcarra.

Sewaholic Belcarra blouse.jpg

The eagle eyed among you might notice that the fabric is different to the one I had planned. The main reason for this is the Liberty lawn didn’t match the rest of my makes as well as this pink. The fabric is an unknown cotton mix with embroidered flowers over two different tones of pink. I found it in one of my local charity shops for £6 when I was stocking up on old sheets to make toiles with. It had been overlocked into a tube with a rectangle of black cotton added to the top. The black cotton had faded badly and wasn’t worth saving but there was enough of the pink to make a top.

Sewaholic Belcarra Blouse 2.jpg

While I was right about the amount of fabric, I had to spend quite a bit of time working out how to cut the pattern and make the most of the flowers. Because the two pinks are separated by a definite line, I needed to make sure it, and the flowers, lined up. This left small pieces for the sleeves and I just managed to squeeze them out in the lighter pink. I even managed to get a flower on each of the sleeve cuffs.

Sewaholic Belcarra Blouse 4.jpg

I made a number of alterations on this version. On the paper pattern, I raised the neckline a couple of centimeters. The one thing that really annoys me about my first version is how the top falls off one of my shoulders. (Being hand wash only is also super annoying). Trying this one on after completion showed that I probably need to take the neckline up another 1.5cm in future. It also revealed that the pattern was one- two sizes too big around my waist. I hadn’t noticed this with the silk version due to the silk’s drape but it was glaringly obvious in this cotton mix. To make it fit, I kept taking in the side seams until I was happy with the fit.

Sewaholic Belcarra Blouse 3.jpg

As you can see in the photos, the fabric crumples badly. The photos were taken after wearing the top for half a day, most of which was spent walking around Lucca. We visited the garden of Palazzo Pfanner which was beautiful and quiet enough to get a few snaps for this post without the risk of another tourist photo bombing. Lucca is a worth a visit if you’re in the area and I preferred it to Pisa.

Anyway, back to the top. The sheen of the fabric and the flowers means I can wear this top in a number of ways. It feels as at home with jeans and other casual trousers as it does with a smart black skirt. I still like the shape of the top, and with some customisation, I can see a few more of these coming out of my machine in the future but how quickly depends on when I can summon the energy to retrace the pattern…

Step by step

Many of us watch the progress of an item on Instagram and it is fun to see how it takes shape. As I was making a last minute holiday make last weekend, I wondered how it would look if I documented each step. So here's a different post for you today, with a fancy collage! It isn't as detailed as it could be but I think you can see how the dress progresses. It was fun to pause and take a quick pic before moving onto the next step.

Step by step Victory Patterns Nicola dress.jpeg

I used Victory Pattern's Nicola dress and dropped the sleeves. I'm saving the rest of the details for a future post with much better photos of the finished dress! I hope you're all having a good weekend. Are you sewing? 

A Polka Dot Vintage Shirt Dress

Hi there. Have you had a good week? Mine has been rather tiring and trying as I strived to complete a massive pre-holiday to list at work. But that none of that matters anymore as the out of office is on and I can finally unwind and get excited about being on holiday. I'm also excited to share this make with you.

Sew Over It pink Vintage shirt dress 4.jpg

Hot off the heels of my first Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress, is another version. I hadn't planned to make another so quickly and this was the surprise make of my sewcation. I totally blame the fabric. I had popped into Masons to get buttons for my sleeveless Granville and spotted the polka dots hiding underneath the counter. After thinking that polka dots should never be stored out of the way, I spotted this dusty pink and white beauty. I knew immediately what it would become. I honestly don't think I have ever put fabric into pre wash as quickly as I did with this, that is how excited I was to use it! 

Thankfully through the excitement came a little voice reminding me to lower the arm holes a little. They fit much better in this version although I should have taken them a tad lower to be fully comfortable. 

Sew Over It pink Vintage Shirt dress 3.jpg

Due to the easy nature of cotton, this dress took no time to complete. The most time consuming part were the buttonholes. When buying the fabric, I decided to get the buttons too. I chose small white ones and knew that I would need more than the eight suggested by the pattern. I settled on twelve. Making the button holes reminded me of a lesson I knew but had forgotten. Sewing machines are, rightly, fussy eaters. I had the prefect matching pink thread that made the white buttons stand out from the fabric. Sadly I couldn't complete my plan as the thread is of poor quality and my machine just churned it up or snapped it with amazing ease. After the second failed attempt I switched to white thread. Lesson firmly re-learnt! 

Sew Over It pink Vintage Shirt Dress.jpg

I lowered the hem by 1.5cm on this version and used my blind hem foot. I did manage to use the pink thread for this and it worked well although it did snap a couple of times. This should have been fair warning for the button holes as I hemmed the dress before adding them. The hem is pretty neat on the outside so no one will know that the inside isn't quite up to scratch. 

Needless to say, I absolutely adore this dress. I seem to have settled on styling it with a white belt and pink sandals or white flats. It feels very 1950s, or Sandy before she met Danny as one of my colleagues told me. Do you agree?

Vintage Shirt Dress

Over the past year I have watched many shirt dresses pop up in my blog reader. The almost constant supply of inspiration made me want to join in but I didn't go looking for a pattern. Then the Vintage Shirt Dress from Sew Over It appeared and landed in my letterbox a few days after it had been released.

Sew Over It white Vintage Shirt dress.jpg

I hatched a plan to use this gorgeous white eyelet that has been sat in my stash for a few years. I bought it on my first visit to the Birmingham Rag Market. It was a piece that I was happy to let sit there as I knew that the perfect pattern would eventually come along. I'm sure the eyelet is polycotton as it didn't take well to a hot iron which caused a few problems getting the facings and the collar to sit properly. Underlining was essential for modesty. As the eyelet is fairly thick I chose a lightweight cotton in a bright blue from Minerva to add a fun element to the dress. The two fabrics work well together and I hope that you can see the glimpses of blue through the squares. 

Sew Over It white Vintage Shirt dress 4.jpg

I was surprised by the amount of ease in this pattern. It's not a bad thing, just that I like my clothes to be a little more fitted. I went down a size or two and then did a 2cm FBA, sharing the additional fabric between the pleats and the gathering at the shoulders to ensure the pleats weren't too deep and noticeable. I made no other changes to the pattern, although I'm starting to think that I should have lowered the armholes by a centimetre - they feel a little too high but are comfortable enough to wear. The hem is the suggested 4cm and it hits higher than my normal hem level which is perfect for summer. I would lengthen it for an autumnal/winter version. 

Sew Over It white Vintage shirt dress 3.jpg

Stitching this was an enjoyable experience. The dress goes together very well and I didn't find any of the steps too complicated - a beginner willing to tackle buttonholes should be able to get through this as the instructions are very clear. I had to seriously grade the facings and collar seam allowances to reduce the bulk from the eyelet. The button holes took some figuring out as I needed to avoid the bulky squares as much as possible - my test samples showed the needle struggled a little. To prevent fraying I used Fray Stopper from Hemline and it is only of those products that I should have used many projects ago. The finished result is very neat. I'm also happy that the rows are continuous across the buttons. The buttons are pale blue to allow them to blend with the dress.

Sew Over It white Vintage Shirt dress 2.jpg

I love the little details of the pattern - the gentle gathering at the shoulders, how the shoulder seam is towards the front and the pleats. It is a simple, classic pattern and I hoped that my plan would stay true to design. I'm delighted with how this dress turned out. I was worried that the eyelet wouldn't work as well as it did and it took until hemming for me to realise that I was adding a nice and much needed dress to my limited summer wardrobe. What's on your sewing table, please? 

Remember Me Granville

When you stand in front of your wardrobe is there a thought that goes through your mind often? When I reach for a pair of trousers or a skirt, I am always thinking "I really must make more separates". I just don't seem to have many tops that I like and those I do are on constant repeat and therefore beginning to look a little old. Recently I have been trying to resolve this regular morning conundrum. Let's say it is an interesting experience - more on that in future posts. 

Sewaholic Remember Me Granville 4.jpg

After my fairly successful first attempt at a shirt, I thought making another Granville would be a perfect place to start. This time I wanted a more casual version. Something I could wear with my jeans, skirts or shorts in the summer. Sleeveless sprung to mind. Cotton lawn too. A plan was being formed. I had picked up 1.5m of Atelier Brunette's Remember Me in the M is for Make sale. I highly recommend this cambric - it is bliss to work with. It's a little different to what I normally wear but I just couldn't resist the stars. Thankfully, the light taupe works perfectly with my separates. 

Sewaholic Remember Me Granville.jpg

I didn't make any changes to the fit except to raise the arm holes a little. I forgot to change to the top and as a result the shoulders come a little too far. The most annoying thing is the arm holes stretched slightly in the making and I can feel the excess when I'm wearing the top. I should really take it in a little but I'm rather proud of my flat felled seams and I don't want to unpick them. Talk about lazy!

Sewaholic Remember Me Granville 3.jpg

Can you spot something out of my comfort zone? I added pockets! I wanted a little more interest to the shirt and pockets seemed like the right thing. They sit very well and don't bother me now. I say now because it took me a full day of wearing this top to like it. The arm holes really bothered me as did the pockets - they made me feel rather self conscious but that disappeared as the hours went on.

Sewaholic Remember Me Granville 2.jpg

I'm very pleased with how this turned out. My edge stitching is so much better on this version. This is mainly because the cotton is more stable than the silk, and I was stitching at a reasonable hour of the day. I finished the arm holes with bias binding and stitched it in place to continue the flat felled look. All in all, a nice little make to see me through the summer. 

Another go at Simplicity 2442

The last couple of months have been defined by repeating patterns. I have been known to repeat but not as frequently as I currently am. Given my lack of time and energy, I've been turning to patterns that are easy to make and only need a few tweaks. Today I have my second version of Simplicity 2442 to share. 

Simplicity 2442 3.jpg

I love my first version but sadly it isn't suitable for the office. As I'm still struggling for clothes I can wear in a warm office during the summer, I decided to make another version. To make this suitable, I raised the neckline by 1.5cm. The fit is good, it less revealing and I'm much more comfortable wearing it without a slip or cami underneath the bodice. I think I need to raise it a smidge more for me to be fully comfortable and this is something I'll bear in mind if I make a third. 

Simplicity 2442 4.jpg

Style wise, I left out the gathers at the waist. This is mainly because I squeezed the dress out of 2m. I also felt it would be more flattering in black. The fabric is a viscose from The Cheap Shop in Essex. It was easy to sew with although it frayed a lot. The bodice is lined in a black poly lining from my stash. I didn't have enough to line the skirt so I'm relying on a half slip to maintain my dignity - the viscose is a little sheer. I chose a lapped zip rather than an invisible one. Lapped zips are quickly becoming my favourite zip insertion - they look so clean and neat. 

Simplicity 2442.jpg

I've worn this dress twice since completion, and both on warm days. The dress is surprisingly cool, very comfortable and feels flattering even after a 14 hour work day. Win! I'm sure that with tights and a cardi, I will be able to wear this dress all year round. Double win! I think this pattern may just become a TNT and it is a great feeling that I'm developing a shortlist of trusted patterns. 

Simplicity 2442 2.jpg

The repeats continue as I'll be sharing another soon from a different pattern I've recently finished stitching. Do you find repeat makes boring or inspiring? 

Sew Over It Betty Dress

How are you all? I hope you're all enjoying your weekend. May has been an impossibly long and busy month for me with many evenings curled on the sofa trying to regain some energy for the next day. This culminated in a big event a few days ago that also left me on the sofa, almost unable to walk as I strained my ankles running around so much. Needless to say I'm very, very pleased to see what back of this month! I did, however, have the energy to make a dress. 

This is a dress that started with the fabric. I've long adored the Betty dress by Sew Over It and finally scooped it up a couple of months ago when my By Hand London fabric arrived. I had ordered an extra metre from the girls to make sure I could fit a Betty out of this gorgeous design. The fabric is Sweet Female Attitude in pale grey and pink and I just love how they work together. 

Sew Over It Betty Dress.jpg

Before launching into the construction details, can I start with what makes me sad about this dress please? I was so excited when the fabric arrived. It was beautifully presented with my other goodies (I've not been parted with my mug while sewing since it entered the house). It washed and pressed very well, and has a good hand, like a lot of high quality cottons I've used in the past. I had high hopes for it but they were dashed a little. You see, this cotton is a little unforgiving. Pins left marks and I have permanent lines where I ripped out poorly sewn lines or removed basting stitches. These permanent lines are now white and glare at me constantly. No one else seems to notice it though. Despite these issues, I'm still very pleased that I paired this fabric to this pattern and I hope you will agree. 

Sew Over It Betty Dress 3.jpg

I was first drawn to Betty by her feminine style and back neckline shaping and she hasn't disappointed. We did have a little argument though over the bodice. I had to make a series of alterations: lowered the armholes by 1.5cm, hollow chest adjustment of 2cm, moved the back darts closer to my centre, and pinched out about 2cm from the back neckline. My second toile fitted perfectly so I merrily cut out and during a sewing day with VG, stitched until the bodice was attached to the skirt. I got home, delighted with my progress, only to find that she didn't fit. The centre back seam didn't meet. Fabric was thrown and a few tears were shed. I'm still not fully certain what happened but I suspect I took too much out the paper pattern when I altered the pieces from my toile. Thankfully I had enough left over fabric to recut the entire bodice at the original size and just pinched out the excess at the back before inserting the zip. 

Sew Over It Betty Dress 4.jpg

The skirt isn't as full as I had originally envisaged. I struggled to get the full skirt width out of the fabric so removed about 10cm of width from each piece. I also shortened it by 3.5cm to ensure the white borders of the fabric were hidden. I rather like the effect. The cotton hangs beautifully and I love how it flows over my hips. It seems that there is the right amount of fulness for this fabric. Construction was easy. I love that the facings are all in one even if I got a little confused on how to finish the shoulder seams cleanly. Turns out it very easy in practice, not so easy to describe in words! 

Sew Over It Betty Dress 2.jpg

Despite our rocky start, Betty and I have made it up completely. She is a very welcome addition to my wardrobe and I love how versatile she is. I can wear her as a summer day dress or dress her up for smarter events and thankfully I have enough accessories to match her subtle colours. Except shoes, I need to buy shoes - now that's a hardship isn't it? How about you, do have an item that you fell out with at the beginning but wouldn't be without now? 

A Robson Summer Jacket

Are you full steam ahead in your current seasonal sewing? I'm certainly am! This make is in anticipation of cool mornings and evenings in spring and summer that the UK is so prone to. It also fills a gaping hole in my wardrobe: a lightweight summer jacket.

Sewaholic Robson trench jacket 5.jpg

It's no secret that I absolutely adore my Sewaholic Robson Trench Coat. It is one of my most worn items due to the shape, fit and fabric so it was pretty clear which pattern I would use for this jacket.

Sewaholic Robson trench jacket.jpg

I made a number of changes this time. The most obvious is changing the length so it finishes around my hips. The second is stripping away a lot of the features: the front storm flaps, epaulettes and sleeve tabs were all discarded. I took out 2cm from the back - regular exercise is definitely changing my shape! I decided to keep the back storm flap as I really like this part of a classic trench. Instead of cutting two and securing them with a button, I used one and top stitched the turned seam allowance. Shortening the length meant the pockets needed to move upwards. They are as high up as I could make them while maintaining comfort and practicality. 

Sewaholic Robson trench jacket 3.jpg

As you would expect, there is a lot of top stitching in this jacket. Every seam on the main part of the jacket is top stitched either side and including the sleeves. The stitching is even throughout and this makes me smile a lot. The stitching that lets the side down though is the bar tacks. I definitely need more practice to neaten them but at least each belt loop is very secure. Forgive the collar in the next photo - I should have straightened it out.  

Sewaholic Robson trench jacket 2.jpg

The fabric is a cotton drill from Plush Addict and a Christmas present from Adam's Grandpa. It is of great quality even if it crumples as soon as you touch it. It was fun and forgiving to work with. I managed to squeeze the jacket out of 2.5m - not bad when you want a fabric hungry belt. Shall we talk about the bright pink lining? Yes, that's right, I was far too lazy to want to deal with all the bias binding that I created a lining. Somehow cutting additional pieces, stitching and overlooking the seams seemed much a more attractive use of time than lining up and stitching perfect binding. More practically, the drill would stick to my clothes making it hard to pull the jacket on. I debated for a while on how to finish the lining ( a cotton silk I bought on Goldhawk Road) and in the end chose to bag it. I would recommend top stitching the outer shell before you bag as it is very easy to catch the lining in the stitches. 

Sewaholic Robson trench jacket 6.jpg
Sewaholic Robson trench jacket 4.jpg

This has already become a staple of my wardrobe as it has had a lot of wear since completion. I just love it. The top stitching, fit and the happy colour are the major reasons for this. Although I love the purple, I'm tempted to make another in a more muted colour so I have all occasions covered but I'm not sure I yet justify another version. Do you have a pattern that you want to make over and over? 

The Morning Granville Shirt

This post feels like it has been a long time in the making. Do you remember when you helped me decide that Sewaholic's Granville shirt would form the basis of my sew before work experiment? Here it is, after 22 days of stitching, in all its glory.

Sewaholic Silk Granville shirt.jpg

You were right: a shirt is the perfect project to stitch when you have limited time as it breaks down into small enough steps. I often completed a couple of steps during the morning. I posted my progress on Instagram each morning and if you missed it you can catch up by visiting my feed. I have to come clean though and say I didn't complete this solely in the mornings before work. As I had very limited silk to work with, I checked I could get the pieces out of the fabric and also reduced the sleeve length in the evenings. Messing up these steps would have made the project impossible! Like many others, I had to reduce the length of the sleeves. I think I took off 7cm. I also pretreated the fabric and unpicked a few seams in daylight to reduce the possibility of snagging the fabric. Still, all of the actual stitching took place between 6.15-7am.

Sewaholic Silk Granville shirt 3.jpg

This is shirt is made from handmade Thai silk which Debbie sent me in the Spring Swap last year. I fell in love with it as soon as I opened it. The purple is amazingly vibrant and the floral print was one that I could actually see myself wearing regularly. It sat in my stash for so long because it measured 97cm wide and 2.3m long. The inside cuffs, inside collar stand and lower collar are from some random black fabric I was given as part of a fabric haul. I think it is a polyester. I wouldn't use it for an actual item but it works for the shirt as it complements the drape and weight of the silk. 

Sewaholic Silk Granville shirt 2.jpg

Given the hour of sewing, stabilising the silk was vital. After seeing how gelatine had changed the hand of one of Hannah's silk blouses, I decided to give it a go. It worked beautifully. The silk became crisp, lost its slippery nature and was like a cotton lawn. This made stitching flat felled seams so much easier. It also slowed the fraying. The gelatine came out very easily at the end and hasn't damaged the silk in any way - it has regained its drape, soft hand and it feels amazing to wear. If you want to know more about using gelatine, check out Hannah's post. I will definitely be using this technique again. 

Sewaholic Silk Granville shirt 4.jpg

This is the first time I have made a shirt and I found the process to be rather satisfying. There is a lot of precision sewing but I got through that by going at a slower pace. My stitching isn't perfect in many places, especially the sleeve plackets and the collar stand but I doubt anyone will notice. I found the sleeve plackets the trickiest part. Getting a clean point while turning under a small amount of fabric is fiddly. I chose to baste the point in place before stitching the placket to the sleeve. It worked reasonably well and didn't get in the way of adding the placket. We all know that pressing can take a make to the next level and this has never been more true than when making a shirt. I found it fascinating to see the difference. Here's a goofy picture of me but one that shows off the shirt well. 

Sewaholic Silk Granville shirt 5.jpg

While this make is no where near perfect, I do love it. It is a great feeling to have a shirt that fits well, is comfortable all day and is worry free - there's no gaping here! While this shirt was made to go with black trousers or a skirt for the office, I think it works well with jeans. I'm seriously tempted to make several more of these for the office and more casually. Will there be another sewing before work challenge, I hear you ask? Not just yet. This isn't because I don't have the energy or the project but because I am about to start a mindfulness course which will take up the spare time I have in the mornings. 

Vintage Pledge: Butterick 4795

It has been a while since I joined in with a sewalong but I couldn't resist joining in with the Vintage Pledge this year. My pledge is make three patterns over the course of year. I know two of the three I will make and want to share the first today. 

A couple of years ago, Hazel sent me Butterick 4795 as part of the Spring Swap. I loved the silhouette and the front panel. The pattern is cut but complete and comes with a previous owner's handwritten note on the front detailing how she planned to make version B. 

Butterick 4795 vintage pledge pattern.JPG

The reason this pattern sat so long in my increasing pattern collection is the fabric. I needed to wait for the perfect combination. I knew I wanted a contrast front panel but it had to compliment the rest of the dress. Eventually I found this combination in the M is for Make spring sale. The main fabric is Robert Kaufman's Brussels Washer in Mist, a 55% linen 45% rayon mix. It feels and behave like linen but the rayon gives it more drape. The panel is Feathers Mineral cotton voile by Charley Harper of Birch Fabrics. Both fabrics are of really good quality and were wonderful to work with. 

Butterick 4795 vintage pledge.jpg

I originally graded up the pattern as my waist measurements were well off those of the pattern. This turned out to be a waste of time as it came out as an enormous sack! Adam and I started to pinch out the fabric to see what alterations were actually needed and it turned out none were. I threw out the toile and retraced the pattern while making a mental note to more carefully measure the pattern next time. I'm pretty happy with the fit from the packet although the neckline is high and it can have a chocking effect when I lean far forward. There is also a lot of excess fabric across my chest but overall it fits well. 

Butterick 4795 vintage pledge 4.jpg

The dress is incredibly easy to make except for the sharp points at the top of the front panel. I carefully transferred the markings from the pattern and traced in the seam lines before stitching slowly. I'm really thrilled with how they turned out. I added a lapped zip as the only the zip I had to hand was a normal one but in the wrong shade of green. It would have looked ridiculous on show so I tried a new technique. I followed Sunni's free zip class on Craftsy and was delighted with the result.

Butterick 4795 vintage pledge 2.jpg

The dress is designed not to be lined. I'm trying to get into the habit of lining all of my dresses and added one here. I skipped the front panel by mashing the front pieces together and adding bust darts. The lining is a peach poly lining that I bought at the Birmingham Rag Market for £1m. I was surprised by the quality for the price - it doesn't have many of those annoying features you normally expect with poly lining. 

Butterick 4795 vintage pledge 3.jpg

I absolutely adore this dress and have worn it to the office every week since completing it. I can see it being worn all year round as it will be easy to layer with tights and a cardi in the winter. Have you joined the Vintage Pledge? If so, how are you getting on?

Burda Editorial Trousers

Can you get excited about office wear, specifically basics? I generally can’t and as a result this post is long overdue. I was forced into this make by going down to one pair of trousers suitable for the office and this was problematic in terms of laundry logistics but also in maintaining interest in my outfits. 

Burda Editorial Trousers.jpg

I’ve delayed making trousers because I knew getting the fit right would be a hard task due to my narrow hips and larger waist. Thankfully I was saved from a long headache by attending a trouser fitting session with KellyHannah and Vairë Gwîr. We spent a few hours around the house of the lady who taught me how to pattern draft and all came out with a pattern that fitted or a block that to use in the future. It really did feel like something magical happened that day - I suddenly understood a lot more about my lower body as well as which parts of a trouser pattern I need to pay attention to. I’m now on the hunt for a couple of tried and tested patterns to fall back on. 

Burda Editorial Trousers 3.jpg

This pattern is the Editorial Pants from Burda 08/2013. I chose them as they are similar in style to my remaining work pair and it is a shape that I love. The main difference is this pattern has front pockets. To get the right fit, I cut the largest size to match my waist measurements and then pinched out the excess at side seams on the front around my hips. The other alteration needed was along the crotch line. I added a small amount to the centre back seam and remove a small amount towards the end of the curve. This worked well as I can comfortably sit and stand. The result is a pair of trousers that fit perfectly in the waist but I'm not sure about the rest of the fit. 

Burda Editorial Trousers 4.JPG

I should have made another toile to check the changes before committing to finishing this pair. The £2pm poly suiting in my stash persuaded me that a wearable toile would be acceptable - if something went wrong I would be unlikely to cry over lost fabric. The pockets and inside waistband are made from the leftover peacock cotton that Minerva sent me to create my peacock dress. Building in colour and interest somewhere was a necessity to balance all of that black! Anyway, back to the fit. The fit issues I have noticed is a ripple across the front just below the fly, some wrinkling around the back and I wonder if the legs are a little to wide. All things to work on for my next pair. I hope you can see what I'm referring to - photographing black indoors is always tricky! 

Burda Editorial Trousers 5.jpg

To my surprise, I enjoyed making these. I was convinced that sewing basics, particularly in dark colours, would be dull and uninspiring. Add Burda’s reputation for unclear instructions and welt pockets and that feeling grew stronger. As expected, the instructions were not as clear as you would like them to be. I could, though, follow their instructions for the welt pockets but the text on inserting the fly and adding the waistband was confusing. To make life easier, I followed the instructions from the Thurlow pattern to insert the fly which went in perfectly first time. I added the waistband in the most logical way I could think of. After the welts behaved following an initial hiccough, the rest of the construction was relatively simple. Being a wearable toile, I took a few short cuts. The waistband closes with a large popper as I was too lazy to add a button. All pieces were overlocked or have zigzag stitches within the seam allowance as the fabrics are prone to substantial fraying. As a result the inside isn’t as nice I would normally like but no one but me will know - except of course for everyone reading this post! 

Burda Editorial Trousers 2.jpg

Even though the fit isn’t right, I’m convinced these will get a lot of wear through necessity if nothing else. I’m now on the hunt for some fabric for another version (after a couple of additional toiles no doubt!) and ideally these won’t be black or another dark colour. Strangely, I seem to be only comfortable wearing dark trousers in the office. I’d love to know if this make sense to you or do you wear brighter colours?

Quart Coat Part Two: Completion

Have you ever worked on a project that seems to take forever to prepare that you swear it will take you weeks to finish and then all of a sudden you have a finished item? My Quart Coat is one of those projects. 

Pauline Alice Quart Coat 7.jpg

As with any big project, it takes a long time to prepare the fabric, cut out the pieces, transfer your markings before you even get to your machine. Add in a large PDF pattern to assemble and I think I spent about five-six hours just preparing to sew. I chose the immediacy of the PDF pattern just in case winter planned to leave early and therefore not giving me much time to enjoy the finished item. I shouldn't have worried - winter is still definitely here! The pattern lines up beautifully when you're taping it together. It is actually perfect and that's really important when a pattern checks in at a whopping 50 pages! 

Pauline Alice Quart Coat 6.jpg

Size wise, this coat fits very well. Other than my standard grading out for the waist and back in at the hips, I didn't make any alterations. There is enough ease in the sleeves to have a 40 minute phone call without your blood circulation being cut off. The collar is perhaps a little high and would sit better if I shaved off about a centimetre but that's a very minor detail. I wasn't sure about the length as my other winter coats are longer. It fine though - my legs don't get that cold and my skirts are no longer getting caught on the lining. 

Pauline Alice Quart Coat 9.jpg
Pauline Alice Quart Coat 8.jpg

This pattern calls for a lot detailed and precise sewing. I chose to make bound button holes which are my preferred button hole on jackets and coats. I needed some guiding through this part as I was a little rusty on the technique. I followed Karen's ebook and it is absolutely fantastic. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to make these for the first time - I ended up with four perfect button holes. I would recommend creating the facing side of the button holes before you stitch the facing to the coat as indicated in the directions. This will save you pushing a large amount of fabric through the machine and the constant fear that the weight of the fabric might stretch it. Other areas that need precision include the zipped sleeves and the epaulettes. Marking my seam lines really helped with creating a neat finish. 

Pauline Alice Quart Coat 2.jpg
Pauline Alice Quart Coat 4.JPG
Pauline Alice Quart Coat.jpg

Perhaps the most pleasing detail of the Quart is the side pleats. They are very easy to create and I left my hand basting in place until the coat was finished to ensure a clean finish. Creating in them in silk was harder though, for all of the reasons you would expect. A note on the amount of fabric you need for the lining - I got everything out of 3m with 80cm width. I didn't use the silk for the zipped sleeves or under the epaulettes but I would have had enough to. The colour contrast was just too strong and I used some black poly lining scraps.  

Pauline Alice Quart Coat 3.jpg

Hand stitching makes several appearances. You need to stitch the lining to the zips on the sleeves and, of course, to add the buttons. Pauline provides two options for attaching the lining to the exterior. You can either bag it or hand stitch in place. I chose to hand stitch using the fell stitch as it gives you much more control. I found this part very satisfying as my stitches are almost invisible.  

Pauline Alice Quart Coat 5.jpg

So the verdict after wearing it for a week? Without doubt, I love it! It is super toasty on frosty mornings and this alone justifies the price of the boiled wool. While I would rather have sunshine and bright days, I'm now okay if winter decides to stick around for longer! 

A polo shirt for my dad

Do you remember my crazy but self-imposed 11 projects on the go at the back of last year? I still have a two selfless makes to share with you and today's post is the first of them.

The story of this creation started when I offered to make Dad a shirt for his birthday. As the discussion went on about what pattern to choose, it became clear that Dad was searching for a long sleeved polo shirt that fitted him well and thus the journey began. After hours of searching, no pattern, modern or vintage, fitted the bill. The only option left to me was to trace off one of his ready to wear shirts. 

Polo shirt 3.jpg

Tracing RTW is a relatively simple process as long as you have enough space to work in and are able to lay the item fully flat. The trickiest part was getting a clean line through the thick seams around the neckline due to the collar. The sleeves also took some time as they are a single piece and I needed to flip them carefully once I had traced one side. 

Sourcing the fabric can only be described as an epic hunt. I had no idea it was so difficult to find decent pique knit in the UK. Perhaps I was looking in the wrong places but I spent hours trying to find it before eventually stumbling upon Jorsey Fabrics based in Nottingham. Ordering from them wasn't the best experience I've had with online fabric suppliers. When I opened the package I discovered that they had cut the fabric very oddly - I had been sent an extra 50cm in the middle of the fabric with a 15cm gap at the selvedges but thankfully this was over the amount I had ordered. The collar and cuffs came from them too and they are of good quality, although the cuffs are a little narrower than I would have liked. Overall the knit was easy to work with but unpicking was difficult. The stitches disappeared into the weave and it was easy to nick the fabric with the seam ripper. 

Polo shirt.jpg

To create the button placket I followed this tutorial which annoyingly I now can't find so I'm unable to share it. I remember the process being reasonably straightforward although creating a clean finish on the outside was tricky as the fabric being sandwiched between layers refused to stay in place.

Polo shirt 2.jpg

The cuffs have been added twice, and to be honest, I expected this to happen. You see, Dad is a little particular about the length of his sleeves. He's generally relaxed about the rest of an item but not the sleeves. I remember shopping with him when I was younger and becoming increasingly bored as he worked out whether the cuffs landed in the right place. To be fair, it probably took just a few minutes for him to decide but when you're a teenager that feels like forever! Anyway, the good news is the cuffs are now exactly where he wants them and that is how it should be. I wouldn't have been happy giving him an item that wasn't right for him.

I'm pleased that he likes the shirt and I hope that it gets a reasonable amount of wear. He also sweetly agree to model the shirt for the photos citing this was his "15 minutes of fame." Little did he realise that I would force him out on a cold day so we could get photos in natural daylight...

Star gazing Bruyere

Did this project start with the pattern or the fabric? I'm not really sure but I knew that they were a perfect match. Perhaps it is because most of the Bruyere shirts I love seem to be or feature blue? Some of my favourites: the original by Deer and Doe, TillyAnna, and Lauren. I adore the feminine feel of this pattern - the box pleats and the gentle gathering at the cuffs. 

Deer & Doe Bruyere.jpg

My feelings toward this project have been mixed. It started out with excitement as my toile revealed I needed only one minor change - removing 1.5cm from the bottom skirt. This shirt is seriously long! As construction progressed I feel out of love - symptomatic of the way I was feeling in December and going on several dates with my seam ripper didn't help. However, that is all forgotten and after a couple of wears, I'm rather pleased with the way it came out. 

Deer & Doe Bruyere 3.jpg

The fabric is a quality cotton and I was drawn to the little stars and dots. I think it was Victoria who brought it to the Sew Brum swap and I snapped it up as soon as I saw it. As you would expect, it was very easy to work with. It's reasonably soft but still has some crispness to it which makes it delightful to wear. Sadly I didn't have enough to cut the facings which are a pale pink cotton from my stash. I quite like the subtle pop of colour around the front neckline. 

Deer & Doe Bruyere 4.jpg

This pattern is marked as advanced and I think that is because there are a couple of tricky techniques but with some patience and careful stitching most people will be able to complete this. Creating the sleeve plackets was a new experience for me. They have come out ok but I would suggest a practice run if you've not done them before so you can get a feel for the precision needed. I was convinced that my stitching was dramatically off, but it turns out its not so bad. I love the way the button plackets and facings are finished - it looks so neat and clean. I found the pictures a little confusing but got there with the help of the sewalong. Essentially, the placket is pressed in half, opened and then the raw edges taken into the centre so they are encased. The facings are placed under the placket before being stitched down.

Deer & Doe Bruyere 5.jpg

A nice design detail of this pattern is the top stitching. I struggled to find a thread that worked well as white was too stark for the amount needed. In the end I went without and hand stitched the button plackets in place. The buttons are those I saved from Adam's old work shirts and I added two smaller ones to each cuff.

Deer & Doe Bruyere 2.jpg

I'm rather pleased with how this shirt fits. Generally I have a hate relationship with rtw shirts as I always get the dreaded gaps between buttons. Not on this shirt and hopefully never again! I don't think this shirt is quite right though. You'll notice that I have the bottom button undone and this is because the shirt feels too tight across my legs if it is done it. This suggests the shirt is still too long and I'm very tempted to take it up and lose the bottom button hole. What do you think? Should I add this to my small list of items to take up?