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My Striped Peak T-shirt Dress

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Wendy Ward recently released her third book – A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics. I was really impressed with all of the reviews that I had read, and was overjoyed to win myself a copy as a competition prize ran by the lovely guys at Girl Charlee UK.

The book contains the pattern pieces to make 20 versions of six basic patterns. There are three pages of pattern sheets, and you need to trace off the specific pattern pieces you require as the colour coded patterns overlap and are printed on both sides of the sheets. On page 23 of the book there is a helpful guide to using the paper patterns including a check list to make sure that you know all the pieces that you need for your chosen project.

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The moment I saw the book, I was really interested in the blue and white striped t-shirt dress that is shown on the cover. One of my favourite Summer dresses is a very old blue and white striped ‘ready to wear’ t-shirt dress which has an elasticated waist just like this. It is now sadly too big for me since I have lost a little weight since I bought it, and anyhow I have worn it so often it is pretty much worn out. This cover dress was always going to be my first make from this book, and I really wanted to get one sewn up so that I could enjoy it this as soon as possible.

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The Peak T-shirt is a basic crew neck t-shirt, and you lengthen it to make it into a dress. To do this, Wendy tells you that you need to extend the t-shirt pattern body pieces by 40cm. No problems with this. You effectively then have a long t-shirt which you will gather at the waist with elastic.

The old RTW dress that I mentioned earlier had a bright yellow waistband, this is one of the things I loved about it most. The dress that I was making from this book doesn’t have a separate waistband piece, but I decided that I could introduce a contrasting piece of plain jersey on the neck band piece instead. I might add a coloured waistband piece in a future make, as this would be quite simple and a way to re-create my beloved dress exactly!

I really would have liked to have used a plain primary colour, but didn’t have any scraps of this in my stash – what I did have was a tiny piece of leftover plain grey interlock jersey from Fabworks Online. I had used this back in April, to make up some baby sleepsuits (which I don’t think I ever blogged about) but if you head on over to my Instagram you will find them back in April.

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I wasn’t sure that this was going to work, as the striped fabric and the grey fabric felt like that they weren’t the same weight, but having decided that even if it meant unpicking it if it didn’t work, it would be worth a try. Surprisingly, the neckband went in lovely, and lays nice and flat. I was so pleased, and love the little pop of colour that it gives to the garment. By the way, the striped fabric is just some cheap t-shirt weight jersey bought from Leicester market for £1 per metre! Although a smidge lightweight for this project , it’s a surprisingly nice quality and has a lovely slub texture to it which you might be able to make out in some of the images.

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I chose the short sleeves, as this is a Summer dress, but there is the option to use long sleeves and you can add a cuff to these too if you like.

Attaching the elastic, gave me all sorts of headaches! For some reason I always seem to struggle when attaching regular elastic to garments in this manner. It should be so easy – simply measure the elastic to fit your waist, join the ends to make a loop and add it to the skirt, using a zig zag stitch stretching the elastic as you go using 4 measured points on the elastic matching up to four points on the dress. I have no problems when doing this with clear elastic, but for some reason when using regular elastic (this pattern calls for 1cm wide regular elastic), it just doesn’t seem to form a neat gather when I release the stretched elastic after stitching. It kind of stays stretched in some areas? Anyhow, I unpicked the first effort, and the second time it was much better, but still not perfect. Rather than unpicking it again, and risk damaging the dress, I will settle for this, but might use my favourite clear elastic next time. By the way, this is just a technique I need to perfect, not a fault with the pattern at all!

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Another tip which I really should have used would be to use a walking foot (if you have one) when sewing knits – especially those with stripes.  For some unknown reason, I didn’t use mine, and despite using an obscene amount of pins when sewing the side seams, the stripes have slipped a little when sewing up and unfortunately are not quite perfectly matched. There was no way I was going to do any more unpicking on this dress so I am going to ignore this little detail and hope no-one notices… ssshhhhh!

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So, lessons have been learned, and I basically need to slow down and take my time to avoid unnecessary mistakes. I will be making LOTS more of these dresses, they are just lovely. The basic t-shirt pattern is also something I will give a go.

There are plenty of other great projects in the book, I really like the look of the Monsal lounge pants too – the perfect tapered leg cuffed jersey trousers. Who doesn’t love a bit of lounge wear? Look forward to whipping a pair of these up during the Autumn.

I am also over the moon that, in my quest to sew nine patterns from independent sewing pattern designers that I have never used before as part of my #2018makenine sewing challenge to myself, this is now the 8th garment that I have completed! Whoopeee!

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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My Pattydoo Milly reversible shopping bag

My love for all things Pattydoo continues. Not only do they have a super range of sewing patterns, some written in English and some in German only, but they also have some great free patterns and this is one of them! Fortunately this is one of the patterns that you can print out in English too, so it’s a winner all round.

 

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So, this free pattern is for a reversible grocery bag. It is available in a small (children’s) size, and a larger adult sized version and you can choose to make it with webbing handles or fabric throughout, as I did. Because it is reversible, it is effectively lined so this makes it nice and strong too.

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I’ve been on the lookout for a pretty shopping bag for a while, and wanted something different to a regular tote bag. I wanted a bag that I could carry in my hands or in the crook of my elbow (not a shoulder bag) rather like a regular 5p plastic carrier bag, and I also wanted it to be reasonably sized so that I could fill it with plenty of shopping.

I was totally taken with the shape of this bag, in particular the pleats, and I knew that I had some pretty quilting cotton in my stash that I had been saving for a project like this.

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I could tell from the images that I had seen on the internet that the handles were going to be a little bit too long for the style that I was after, so I shortened them by 7cm. As mentioned before I wanted it to be ‘carrier bag style’. I simply printed out the pattern, cut it out and shortened the handle by 7cm before cutting it out. The width of my fabric was quite narrow, and I didn’t follow the cutting layout that Pattydoo had suggested. I folded both my selvedge’s into the centre to give myself two folded edges, and jiggled the pieces to make it fit. It worked out fine though and I managed to get each bag cut out with no problems. Take care if you have a directional print to make sure that your pieces are laying in the correct direction before you cut it out.

Along with the inverted pleats which I think are so cute, I love the way the boxed corners are sewn. I think they’re really pretty and give an interesting finished result.

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There are no written instructions to make up this bag included in the PDF, instead you are directed to a great Video tutorial which takes you through the whole step-by-step process of making it. Although this is spoken in German (I don’t speak German), it is really good and clear and is a great way to follow along with the sewing process.

The fabric that I have used is a quilting cotton from a range by Tanya Whelan. It was purchased from a small independent fabric shop which is no longer in business, but I will leave a link here for one alternative source of this fabric from this range that I have found. It also gives you a good idea of the coordinating colours and designs available in this collection. I really recommend quilting cotton or something of similar weight/strength for this project as the finished result is a really strong and sturdy bag.

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It’s a quick sewing project, and I am so happy with how it turned out. I am definitely keeping this for myself, but it would make a great gift idea too I think. I have a little fabric left over and when I get a chance will make a small pouch to keep it tidy inside my handbag so that I have it with me at all times.

I am on the lookout to replace my big shopping bags sometime soon. You know the large jute shopping bags that look like this:

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Our jute bags are on their last legs and I would like to make a set of bags like this using upholstery fabric probably and webbing handles, but cannot seem to find a good sewing pattern (it doesn’t have to be free) that looks similar to this design. If anybody has any good pattern suggestions for something like this, I would love it if you could leave a comment below and I can check it out. Thank you so much!

Let me know if you have a go at the Pattydoo pattern, I would love to see your makes!

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

 

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Another Pattydoo Chloe Dress.

I am a huge fan of this sewing pattern, and have made several versions before (using scuba), which I have blogged about on previous posts. The reason that I am sharing another one with you, is that I am celebrating the launch of a new online knit fabrics boutique, Pin and Sew , by making up my favourite dress pattern using fabric from her brand new store.

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I was recently approached by Aga, who is the owner of Pin and Sew. She explained that she was launching her new venture soon, and wondered if I would be interested in taking a look at the website and perhaps trying out some of her fabric. Her website specializes in knit fabrics, and as I love sewing with knits, it was good to take look at what she has to offer – but not so easy to choose my favourite out of them all!

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Over on the Pin and Sew site, you will find a good selection of jerseys, French Terry, Ponte and Sweatshirt fabrics. Patterned and plain, there is something for everyone. I opted for this wonderful  green French Terry which has a floral design (honeysuckle I think), and Cranes. It is also available in a blue colour way. I have never sewn with a French Terry before and was keen to try out this type of knit. It is rather like a sweatshirting fabric, with a small loop back on the wrong side, but more light weight.

There is also a great selection of adults and children’s sewing patterns for sale too, all geared towards sewing with knits.

The fabric arrived in next to no time, and I was delighted to see it arrive in plastic free wrapping. The strong brown paper bags used by Pin and Sew will still protect your fabric in transit, but are totally environmentally friendly. The fabric was also accompanied by an information card giving me care instructions for my fabric. Over on the Pin and Sew website, you can learn all about their concern for the environment  and how this is reflected in their packaging.

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Back to the Pattydoo pattern. Another reason for writing about the Chloe Dress again is to mention that a pattern written in another language can still be made up with very little problems. Pattydoo is a German pattern company and has a large range of reasonably priced PDF patterns for adults and children, as well as some free patterns too. I recently made their free shopping bag (the Milly bag) and plan to blog about this shortly too.

Firstly, this PDF pattern was 3 Euros. Can you believe it! I am still stunned by the low price of this. After printing out the pattern and instructions, I realised that I would need some help from Google Translate. This helped a little, especially with the fabric requirements and cutting instructions, but what really is the game changer for this company is that they have a YouTube channel where you can follow a complete video sew-along for the construction of the dress. Whilst this is still spoken in German (I don’t speak a word of German), the visual aspect of it is so good (along with seam allowance measurements being flashed up on the screen), that you barely need anything else – it is really excellent! I would still recommend that you make up a toile in this situation before cutting into precious fabric, just in case you have missed something important along the way!

Another thing to bear in mind with the video guide is that she is showing you how to make the child’s dress, so if you are making an adult version, you just need to remember to sew in the bust darts at the appropriate time and also add some elastic to the centre back waistline to give it some shape there too. Guidance on these steps are found in the pattern’s written instructions.

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The pattern has a choice of sleeve lengths, and the neck can be finished with a neckline facing or you can add a neckband. I chose to make the short sleeved version, and as you can see I used a neckband to finish the neckline, as I love this finish. This cotton French Terry is wonderful to sew with, soft and breathable, and is a perfect weight for this dress. I am also imagining this fabric made up into a Grainline Studios Linden Sweatshirt  – how dreamy..

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Yes, this pattern has pockets. It doesn’t get any better. Although I feel I may have accidentally stretched out the pocket edges when I top stitched them, despite using a walking foot, so will take extra care with this step next time. It also pays to be extra careful to trim down your seam allowances where they are bulky to avoid any lumps which I have in a couple of places. I need to remember more haste and less speed.

Aside from the walking foot if you have one, it is also a good idea to use ball point pins or wonder clips, and stretch/jersey or ball point needles on your machine when sewing knit fabrics. I always test on a scrap of leftover fabric before I start sewing on my main project just to check that I am happy with the stitch.

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Because I have made the dress so many times before, I knew the alterations that I needed to make, and already have the adjusted pattern pieces ready to use. I must be honest – I have lost weight since I made these measurements, so could probably do with adjusting  them again, but basically I lengthened the bodice (unusually for me), by 2cm and added 3.5cm to the skirt length.

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I am super pleased with how the dress has turned out. I am often on the look-out for green floral fabric and it’s not always that easy to find, so I was really chuffed to have had the opportunity to make this dress with this wonderful fabric. Thank you so very much to Aga, for giving me the opportunity to work with her during this exciting launch, and providing me with such pretty fabric.

As well as the website linked above, you can also find Pin and Sew over on Instagram and facebook.

I would love to hear if any of you have any more tips on sewing patterns that are printed in a different language to your own. Do share any of your tips in the comment section below.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

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The Mayfair Dress from Nina Lee and a pattern giveaway

Pattern testing is becoming something that I have really been enjoying just lately, and I was more than thrilled to be accepted as part of the pattern testing team for Nina Lee recently. Nina Lee is an independent pattern company based in London, and has an impressive range of patterns including dresses, tops, trousers and pyjamas which I would encourage you to check out if you are unfamiliar with her designs. Nina is a friendly and inspiring young designer who is incredibly talented and hard working and I look forward to working with her again.

So, let me introduce you to The Mayfair Dress.

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This is a jersey dress designed to take you from day to night and is suitable for all occasions. It is incredibly comfortable, super flattering, and with the choice of skirt lengths and sleeve options you are bound to find a combination to make the dress of your dreams! It has a tie belt which can be tied at the front or the back, depending on your mood.

The dress is available in UK sizes 6-20, and you will need to use a knit fabric with a 25% crosswise stretch with a good drape.

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I chose to use a viscose jersey, and opted for this stunning blush pink and navy fabric from The Sewing Cafe in Hinckley. It’s so pretty, and works with this pattern perfectly I think.

The pattern is really quite simple, and has no fastenings. The collar facing is attached to the dress using the ‘burrito’ method, which is such fun and ensures a beautiful clean finish with no raw edges to neaten. Don’t worry if you have never used this technique before, the instructions are really great – in their wording and with the use of clear illustrations.

I chose to make the knee length version with short sleeves. I love the depth of the flattering v-neck- it’s just right. Pleats are created at the back of the collar and softly create a lovely drape down towards the bust on the front bodice.

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The pleats are created at the centre back neck seam.

I love how the fabric tie nips you in at the waist. This is attached at the centre front seam of the dress over your gathering stitches and secured along the upper and lower edges with two lines of top stitching. The length of the tie is perfect, and is long enough for you to choose if you want to tie it at the back or bring it round again and make a feature of the tie at the front of the dress.

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The sleeves went in nicely with no puckering or gathers, and are fitted as one of the final steps before the dress is sewn up at each side in one continuous line from the end of your sleeves to the underarm point and continuing down to the hem.

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I really enjoyed making this dress. I made absolutely NO changes to the pattern at all, and it fits like a glove. I have since made another version of this dress, which I had photographed during a recent sewing get-together which I blogged about here, and once I get the photographs back from the photo session there, I will add them to this blog post so that you can see another version.

Addition on 21st September 2018 – as promised in the paragraph above, here is another version of the Mayfair dress:

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Do you fancy making a version of this dress yourself? To celebrate the launch of this new pattern, I have one copy of this dress pattern (paper version), to be won, as I am hosting a giveaway over on my Instagram page. It’s really simple, you just need to head on over to my Instagram page and follow, like and comment on my post (pictured above), and a random winner will be chosen on Sunday 15th July 2018 at 3pm U.K time. This giveaway is open worldwide so, good luck everyone!

*This giveaway is now closed*

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Happy sewing, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

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The Out and About Dress from Sew Caroline

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I admit it, I cannot resist a blue floral dress fabric. But really, this fabric could not be ignored could it? It’s a medium weight stretch jersey knit with the most incredible bright orange and pink flowers. It’s hard to see the true beauty of the blue colour – but it’s somewhere between a navy and royal blue, so is really special. Currently at £4.99 per metre, it’s a bit of a bargain too!

This is The Out and About Dress from Sew Caroline Patterns and it is my latest make for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network. If you use this link you will be able to access my full review and all of the supplies that I used for it.

I’ll keep it brief today, as I always do with my Minerva Crafts blog posts, but do head on over to get all the details on how I love this dress, and also what I would do differently next time I make one.

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This dress is also another make ticked off my #2018makenine list, so I am pretty pleased about that too! This year I am trying to make nine items using nine independent pattern designers that I haven’t used before, and this dress is make no. 6 – let’s hope I can keep this up and tick them all off by the end of December.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x