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The Cassie Dress from Emporia Sewing Patterns

The Cassie Dress is a pattern that I have had my eyes on for quite some time. I first spotted it when I met Clair and Charlotte from Emporia Patterns on their stand at the Knitting and Stitching Show late last year. By that point in the day I had entirely spent out on lots of sewing goodies, but made a mental note that the Cassie looked like a pattern that would be right up my street and would probably look to purchase another time.

Fast forward a few months and I recently noticed lovely Becky from The Sewing Cafe wearing a couple of gorgeous versions and that was it, it had to be mine! By the way I bought my pattern from The Sewing Cafe.

The Cassie Dress is a fairly relaxed fitting tiered Summer dress. It has a simple t-shirt style bodice with bust darts, and to that you can add on your choice of two or three skirt tiers. You can also choose to make it with tie straps at the shoulders too. It has no fastenings at all as it is a ‘pull on and off over the head dress’ which make it super easy and quick to sew too!

The pattern pieces are printed on high quality paper and have different coloured size markings which make tracing or cutting your size really easy. It’s definitely a beginner friendly sewing pattern – but just don’t forget to finish your seams in your chosen way as you are sewing it, as I don’t think this is mentioned in the instruction booklet.

I had a feeling that as much as I like maxi dresses, the three tier version might drown me a bit, so I went for the two tiered option. I also went for the classic t-shirt top rather that the tie straps, because, well, bingo wings…

However I didn’t know where the two tiered length would hit me, and if I would need to alter the depth of those two tiers, so the easiest thing was to pin the pattern pieces together at their (1cm) seam allowance and kind of hold it against me to give me a rough idea. Imagine my surprise when it looked like it would hit my knee at exactly the right place without any alteration!!!!!!

By the way I’m 5’2″ tall and I cut a straight size 12.

My measurements are 36-29-39.

My fabric choice was this gorgeous black Swiss Dot cotton poplin from Fabworks, it has the cutest tufted burgundy dots which just break up the severity of the colour a little.

One thing that I did differently from the pattern was to interface my neck facing pieces. I also ‘stitched in the ditch’ down the shoulder seams to keep them in place.

I really enjoy pockets in a dress so I also added my own inseam pockets using an inseam pocket template from another pattern. The placement on them (for me) means that they sit perfectly within that top tier.

The neckline is just right – not to low, not too high, and the short sleeves are ‘grown-on’ so no separate sleeve piece to ease in too. Happy days! It’s very comfortable to wear and I feel really great when I have it on.

I found the fit to be spot on. Comfortably relaxed and easy to pull on and off over your head, but not so loose that you feel swamped by it. It’s a really fantastic pattern all round that I know I will sew again and again (I already have some fabric in my stash earmarked for another Cassie), and would work well with cute trainers – which is probably how I will more often that not style it myself – and equally wearable in the colder months with opaque tights and boots.

I’m very impressed with this pattern. I like it A LOT. Do head on over to Emporia (linked above) and check out their adult and children’s sewing patterns, and whilst you are there they have a pretty cute selection of fabrics too.

Apologies for the lack of photos on this blog – turns out photographing a BLACK dress in sunny/cloudy/sunny/cloudy weather plays havoc with how the pics turn out!

Hope you’re all keeping safe and well and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

Photos taken at Coombe Abbey near Coventry.

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A Tilly and the Buttons Stevie Add-on Gathered Dress

I’m sure that most of you are familiar with The Stevie  tunic and top pattern from Tilly and the Buttons. Did you notice last month that an add-on pattern had been released? This  gives you the option to use the original pattern to add longer sleeves or a gathered skirt transforming it into an oversized smock dress whilst still retaining those classic and recognizable Stevie features.

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The new dress version could not have appealed to me more! It’s right up my street! Gathered skirt – yes please. Tie back – of course. Swishability – 100%.

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This dress is made using the original Stevie pattern plus the Add-on pattern. A bundle of both patterns together is also available here.

*polite/shy cough* I was beyond flattered to be asked by Tilly and the Buttons to model the pattern images for this new add-on pattern and, trust me, I’m still pinching myself.

The sample of the dress that I modelled for Tilly is made up in this beautiful linen/cotton stripe from Lamazi Fabrics and is gorgeous. Immediately that I saw it I desperately wanted to make my version in a linen stripe too and have a bit of fun copying those playful stripe directions.

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The fabric that I purchased for my version is a viscose linen from Material Girl Laura. Unfortunately this is out of stock now, but it’s a beautiful mid blue with a narrow white stripe.

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Can you see the little dots of rain on the fabric!  Typical British Summer hey?

The acrylic pastel blue knitting necklace with gold plated chain is available from my shop.

As I needed to be very careful cutting this out to make sure that the stripe was running the correct way on each pattern piece, I drew out a rough sketch of the dress (front and back) and drew the stripes in so that I knew which way to lay each piece on the fabric. This was also important as I knew that I would only have just enough fabric to do this. Guess who despite this still cut out the back bodice piece (the piece below the back yoke) with the stripes in the wrong direction!? Yep, me..

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This resulted in some rude words, and some intense pattern repositioning on the remaining pieces and I finally managed to squeeze out that back bodice piece by cutting it as two separate pieces (rather than on the fold) so now there is a little vertical seam running down the centre now. Never mind, you can barely see it ( I hope) and at least the stripes are running in the direction that I wanted.

Oh I also had to cut the sleeve cuffs with the stripe running in the wrong direction as a result of this, as this was the only way I could get them out of the fabric leftovers now, but you really wouldn’t notice this either.

So after all that self-inflicted stress cutting out, I was excited to get started sewing. (I am a straight Tilly size 4 by the way, but for this dress I wanted it a little less oversized so I cut a size 4 in the top grading it in to a size 2 at the waist, and a size 2 skirt). My measurements are 36-30-40 btw and I am 5’2″.

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It’s a dream to sew, as are all of Tilly’s patterns, and I really enjoyed seeing it come together especially with all of those fun directional stripes. After adding the cuffs I decided to hand stitch them in place all the way around rather than just using some discreet stitches at the shoulder and side seam. I was trying to avoid the chance of them becoming a bit unturned whilst wearing them, if you know what I mean. Now that I have hand stitched them I feel that they look a bit flat and realise that they would look much better stitched in a couple of places as instructed, so I think I’ll whiz back to them, unpick that stitching and finish them as I should have done in the first place!

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One of the things that I love about this dress is the large pocket. It’s fab isn’t it? Sadly I had to reduce the size of the pocket because of my pattern placing error that I mentioned earlier. I simply couldn’t get it out of the fabric with the stripe in the correct direction at it’s original size. So whilst the width of my pocket is the same as the pattern, I had to make it about 4cm shorter. It’s only a little bit smaller than the original and still super cute.

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I also placed the pocket so that it’s side edges lay exactly parallel to those vertical stripes on the skirt. The placement markings for the pocket actually means that the pocket side edges are parallel to the side seams (not the fold line/centre front of the skirt) so technically this means that my pocket is actually stitched on a little bit wonky, but it looks straight, because of the vertical lines of the skirt… Gosh does this make any sense? One last thing,  I also raised the height of the pocket by about 4cm.

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After attaching the skirt I realised that the weight of the skirt had pulled the waist seam down to lower than I wanted ( something that Tilly mentions might happen in her instructions).  I felt that I needed to raise the waist seam by about 4.5cm along the front bodice from side seam to side seam. The back bodice didn’t need reducing all the way around, I just needed grade this 4.5cm reduction down to nothing for about 12cm from each side seam in towards the centre back.

There are some helpful and interesting posts on the Tilly and the Buttons blog herehere and here.  So do check those out if you need any fitting help or inspiration.

I would also like to say that the add-on pattern was gifted to me when the pattern was released. This was with no obligations or conditions to share in any way. The thoughts in this post, as always, are entirely my own. The original Stevie pattern that is also needed to make this dress was purchased by myself.

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Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The By Hand London Hannah Dress

Instagram definitely made me do this!

So many beautiful examples of this gorgeous wrap dress have been popping into my feed over the last few months I could only resist for so long … and boy! she was worth the wait!

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Image from By Hand London.

The Hannah Dress  from By Hand London is a pretty wrap dress/blouse which has three different sleeve variations. Bishop sleeves (shown above), tulip sleeves and short sleeves which is the version that I made. It has a size range of UK 6-24, and I cut a size 10

 

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As is almost always the case with me, the in-seam pockets (yes, it has pockets)! were too low. I raised the height of the pockets by 2″ and now they are the perfect height. For reference I’m 5’2″.

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Another adjustment that I made, was to alter the neckine on the bodice to make it a little more modest. It is a fairly low cut design and there is a brilliant tutorial on the By Hand London blog here  to show you how to adjust the bodice to give you a little more coverage! I adjusted my pattern piece by adding 1″ to the shoulder seam and I feel much more comfortable with the result. (This blog post also shows you how to correct a gaping neckline if you need to).

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I very rarely sew anything pink, I don’t know why, and now I have dipped into it, I feel I might add more of this colour to my handmade wardrobe. The fabric that I used is this adorable dusky pink floral cotton poplin from the lovely Sophia at Sew Jessalli.

Big shout out and thanks to Sophia for her patience and help when I realised that I needed more fabric than I had actually ordered, and adjusting my order before it was dispatched. What a gem! I hope these pics give you some idea of the pretty colour of the fabric as these pictures have come out a tiny bit washed out for some reason.

The By Hand London patterns are lovely to follow. Nicely illustrated and worded so that they are easy to understand, they are a pleasure to sew.

I lowered the bust darts by 3.5cm on this dress, and not sure that I have this quite right – I think I need one of Elisalex’s bodice fitting classes! – but I feel comfortable in it and might play around with this on my next version.

Some lovely features of this dress include the use of bias binding all the way around the neck edge. I have lots and lots of handmade bias that I make using cotton leftovers so this was a good opportunity to use some of the pretty ditsy pink floral that I had in my bias stash!

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The front left skirt piece is intentionally left ungathered, to avoid any bulk as it sits underneath the outer right hand skirt piece when worn. Thumbs up.

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There are four belt ties to make for this dress. Two that are visible on the outside and two that secure the dress underneath. I made the two belt tie pieces that are not visible when worn, from the fabric selvedge just for fun (but mostly so that I don’t have to turn 4 belt ties through to the right side after sewing, only two)! Ha! By the way, I sewed my ties using a 3/8″ seam allowance rather than the 5/8″ that is used throughout the rest of the pattern to make it easier for myself when turning it through. The result is very slightly wider ties, but nothing drastically different.

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The length of the dress is your preference. I did cut it full length to the pattern as originally I really wanted that midi length/ballet dress vibe (see final pic ha ha). When I tried it on before hemming however I felt I would wear it more at this ‘just below the knee’ length. This resulted in a bit of annoying fabric wastage which I normally try to avoid, but all’s well that end’s well and those offcuts have made some very pretty face masks here.

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I was really pleased with how the short sleeves eased in perfectly (with a little patience and lots of pins), but have to say it feels a little restrictive when you lift your arms. I might try the tulip sleeves next time to see if that gives me less restriction.

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The gold acrylic mirror scissors necklace (which is a little blurry in these pics unfortunately) is available from my shop here.

 

 

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I used to wear wrap styles all the time a few years back, and have slowly evolved into loving a round neck mostly now, but this has reignited my love for the wrap style for sure.

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When your new dress gives you those ballet vibes that you were hoping for!…

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I also couldn’t resist painting a little peg doll …

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Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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3D Face Mask/Covering with nose wire and filter pocket.

Before I start I want to check in on you guys. I hope that you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well. You don’t need me to tell you that times are difficult in many ways right now, and I hope that sewing is allowing you a few essential moments of peace and calm.

It’s important to say that I am no expert on face masks/coverings. What I am talking about here is a handmade face mask/covering and how I have adapted a great free pattern/tutorial  (linked below) in a way that I feel a little more protected when I wear it. This is by no means a medical grade mask, but a face covering to offer you some protection when you are out and about in low risk areas, whilst still maintaining social distancing rules and washing your hands. I would encourage you to do your own research to decide if this is the type of mask that suits your needs.

Like many of us, I had (half-heartedly) tried a couple of mask patterns over the last few weeks, and not been terribly impressed with the results for many reasons. A couple of weeks ago I saw that Marie aka @stitchodyssey  had posted a picture of a 3d face mask saying how great it was compared to others that she had tried. As tighter rules have come into effect now regarding the wearing of face masks/coverings, this was the perfect opportunity to give the pattern a go.

The free mask ‘pattern’ is from a lady called Romilda Dias ( @romildadps  on Instagram). I say ‘pattern’ – there is not actually pattern pieces that you download or print out, you cut the template yourself – don’t worry though it’s really straightforward. She has a YouTube channel  where she shows a tutorial on how to make it. Although visually easy to follow, it is spoken in Portuguese, and Marie has kindly shared a video on her Instagram TV here  where she takes you through the template cutting and sewing process. (This blog post is NOT a tutorial on how to sew the mask, just how I amended it to my personal taste). It might be worth you heading over to watch the tutorial before you jump into my amendments so that you have a better understanding of what I am talking about.

The finished result of the original mask even without any changes is really good in my opinion. This clever design, gives you separate nose and chin coverage and the fit feels really good right from the get go. The mouth section is comfortably ‘roomy’, making it feel easier to breathe, and not so tight around the mouth like others I have tried.

After making a couple of samples, I felt that I wanted to make two tiny changes. I wanted to add a nose wire to give an even closer fit over the nose, and I also wanted to make the mask lining piece with an opening so that I could add a disposable filter, in addition to the two layers of fabric.

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Such a nice fit around the top, sides and underneath of the mask.

Adding the nose wire was not rocket science! I had picked up some aluminium wire mask strips from eBay. They were reasonably priced and have smooth rounded tips for comfort. Because the aluminium won’t rust I don’t need to remove it each time I wash the mask so I simply measured the centre point of the folded nose piece, the centre point of the aluminium strip and went right ahead and sewed around it. Simple.

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Sorry that the stitching is so difficult to see x

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As mentioned I also wanted to make an opening in the lining to allow me to use a disposable filter. This means drawing up another template with a rectangle measuring 22cm x 12cm ( 1cm deeper than the original 22cm x 11cm). Fold and cut the corners exactly as you did with your original piece.

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To make one mask with a filter opening you will need to use three fabric pieces using the original template and one fabric piece using the larger template (rather than 4 of the original template).

After cutting out your fabric, measure the halfway point down each side, draw a cutting line and cut the piece into two along this line.

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Place right sides together and pin along that straight edge. What you are going to do is sew from each edge in towards the centre using a 0.5cm seam allowance just for a few centimetres and then stop, leaving a gap in the centre unstitched. I hope you can see below I have pinned along the straight edge and placed double pins where I wanted my stitching to stop. I chose to stitch 7cm from each edge, giving me an 8cm unstitched opening in the middle, but you can choose how big you would like your filter opening to be and make it bigger or smaller as necessary.

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Press the seam open, which will reveal the gap in the centre of the seam, and topstitch along both sides of that seam (including along the open edges).

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You should now be left with a piece that is the same size as the other 3 regular pieces that you have cut, and these 4 pieces (along with 2 small rectangles that you have cut for the elastic casings) will now fit together to make your mask.

For the filter fabric I purchased some filter material from Sewing Sanctuary  As said before, I am no expert on this, and would strongly encourage you to do your own research on mask filters. Do share in the comments if you have found other good filter fabrics and where they are from please!

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Not forgetting that there is the flap underneath the chin too. I probably should have raised my head a little higher here, trust me – it’s a nice fit!

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The mask fabric that I have used is a super pretty pink floral cotton poplin from Sew Jessalli  It’s the leftovers from a new dress that I have just finished and will no doubt blog about next week x

The dress that you can get a glimpse of here is the Nina Lee Mayfair Dress  using viscose jersey from The Sewing Cafe.

Dark grey and glitter acrylic scissors necklace available from my shop.

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I used 3mm soft white elastic cord to make the ear straps.

Oh, and the ‘with love from a sewcial distance’ labels are from Modista Sewing. They’re a pretty cute finishing touch right?

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As always take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

 

 

 

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The Ashton Top from Helen’s Closet.

Sometimes the simplest things are the best. The Ashton Top  from Helen’s Closet Patterns is a perfect example of that.

It’s a sleeveless boxy A-line top available in a cropped or hip length. It’s also worth noting that this pattern is available in an incredible size range – 0-30, with cup size choices too.

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There is however a lot more to this pattern than meets the eye.

Attention to detail ( as usual from Helen’s Closet patterns) is key, and the usual incredibly thorough sewing instructions, illustrations and tips make the process of sewing this top was a real pleasure.

I love that you are given the choice of how to finish the neckline and arms – bias or facing. I opted for the facing as I feel that this always ‘sits’ better than the bias finish. I also love the ‘burrito’ method of attaching the facing too, this is always great fun and feels like a magic trick when you pull it through after sewing doesn’t it!

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The arm opening is quite low cut,  and I did find that my bra strap showed underneath my arm before adjusting it. I also (unsuccessfully) tried to pattern fit it before cutting out  to check the bodice length and dart position, and thought that I needed to lower the bust darts by 2cm. As you can see, I didn’t need this after all, but never mind I can live with this and will alter the pattern back to it’s original dart position for next time.

In my opinion the neckline is just right. Not too high, not too low.

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Although a small detail, I also LOVE that it has a hem facing. Because this was a bit of a ‘try out’ version, I didn’t use the hem facing this time as I hadn’t decided for sure on how long I would want it to be, but now that I have the length sussed, I will look forward to adding this wonderful little touch on my next Ashton.

Whilst we are talking about length, I shortened the pattern piece by 4cm before cutting out, and in the end I used a 3cm hem. I’m 5’2″.

I also cut a size 10 – my measurements are 36 -30 -40. These measurements actually put me in the size 12 range, but upon checking the finished garment measurement chart I decided to size down by one size.

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My fabric choice is this pretty cotton print that I have had in my cupboard for years. It’s good to finally use something that you have had for a long time. I think it would be fun to try it out in a more drapey fabric too. For these pictures I have paired it with a pair of teracotta linen Safiya Trousers  from the latest book by Tilly Walnes ( Tilly and the Buttons) ‘Make It Simple’.

You know you have a good pattern when you are already planning your next one almost before you have finished the first!

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Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

 

 

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A quick and easy elasticated skirt

I’m keeping it simple this week.

After a few busy weeks, I decided that I wanted to make a really easy, quick project that didn’t require much concentration. A bit of a palate cleanser.

Turns out this was great timing too, as I chose this as the simpler of the two projects that I wanted to make during the recent #sewingweekender and this one was the only one that I finished that weekend, as I was crazy busy!

Who doesn’t love the comfort of an elasticated skirt, right? Especially when you can show off the vibrant print of a pretty fabric.

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Gold mirror acrylic scissors necklace from my shop.

Talking of the Sewing Weekender, this skirt has been in my mind for a year. At last year’s Sewing Weekender in Cambridge, one of the guest speakers was Juliet Uzor. In case you don’t know, she was the winner of the 2019 Great British Sewing Bee, and as you can imagine we were all crazy excited for her presentation.

Her talk was fun, happy and really enjoyable, (she’s absolutely lovely by the way), and all the time I could not stop admiring her skirt. She was wearing a knee length wax print skirt, I think it was pleated though (not gathered like this one), and it was just beautiful.

Fast forward a year and I thought I would use this cheap, but colourful wax print that I had in my stash to make something similar, and guess what my friends, the gorgeous Juliet just so happens to have a youTube video with a cheeky little tutorial on how to make a skirt with exposed elastic! This is the video that has helped me attach the elastic like this and you can check it out here.

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This fantastic rainbow elastic is again something from my stash. I think it might have been an eBay purchase at some point. I have found it quite tricky to find really wide colourful elastic like this, do you have any suggestions of some good wide elastic retailers? I’d really like some wide striped for more skirts like this.

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The fabric, although pretty is very low quality. I was really disappointed with it. There is definitely some polyester in this, but it’s ok for something like this. I guess you get what you pay for .. However the softness of this particular fabric allowed me to make a softly gathered skirt like this and I shall enjoy using a much better quality wax print fabric to make a more structured pleated skirt another time.

Don’t forget to pop in some simple inseam pockets using any pocket template from an existing pattern or drafting your own. You can skip this of course if you are a beginner and want a more simple version.

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I was undecided about what length I wanted, so opted to cut a midi length, and I can always shorten it. I kind of like this length though, so will leave it like this for now.

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Hope that you are all keeping safe and well, and finding time for a little sewing here and there.

Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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A Cocowawa Plum Dress

O.k, we all know that I love a pretty dress and a good ruffle. Throw in a button back and I’m 100% on board!

This is the Plum Dress  from Cocowawa Crafts. It’s a cute little baby-doll dress which has a relaxed fit, choice of lengths, and options to make the sleeveless ruffled version or the 3/4 length sleeves.

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Image from the Cocowawa website

I clearly went for the sleeveless ruffles, and glad that I did, because I have hardly any sleeveless dresses, although to be fair with the lovely dropped shoulder and ruffles they kind of look like little sleeves, which is great for someone like me that prefers to keep their bingo wings covered!

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In terms of sizing, the pattern is designed to be loose fitting. What I was after was something a little less relaxed. So after checking the finished garment measurements and also after reading beautiful Amy’s really helpful review here,  where she also was aiming for this kind of fit, I opted to jump in and make the size 2 bodice and size 1 skirt. My measurements at this time are 36-30-40 (they change all the time – up and down like a yo-yo)!

This worked incredibly well, although it’s very slightly tight around sleeve opening, which will need adjusting next time, but apart from that the bodice fit and the gently gathered skirt is just what I was after.

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The neckline sits a little too high for me, so would also lower that for future makes, probably by a couple of inches. Whilst we are on the subject of the neckline, this is beautifully finished off on the inside with bias binding. I have lots and lots of home made bias binding that I have made with leftover cottons and picked a ditsy pink floral for this dress. I know you can’t see it, but it’s a pretty detail that I will enjoy each time I put it on. Of course you can always use shop bought bias tape too.

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This beautiful cotton poplin is from Crafty Sew and So  and has been in my stash for a few months whilst I waited for the warm weather and the perfect pattern. The fabric combines gorgeous lilacs, lime greens and chestnut browns, and whilst this pic and was taken in the shade (it was a very hot day), I think you can get the idea of how sweet it is.

The pastel pink acrylic button necklace is available from my shop x

As mentioned I absolutely love button-back garments, and this is such a pretty feature on The Plum. I used these cute wooden buttons and lime green thread. After I sewed all the button holes, I realised that I only needed the top two to allow the dress to slip on and off over my head, so the top two are the only working buttonholes, the rest are just buttons sewn on over the top of the uncut buttonholes right through all the layers.

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On to the adorable ruffle sleeves. When I first gathered and attached them, I felt that they were a smidge too wide for me, especially with the poplin having that extra bit of body to it, so I narrowed them down by about 1.5 inches. I simply did this by trimming the long curved edge of the sleeve ruffle by that amount.

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Ooh, I also kept the hem of the skirt horizontal – the actual pattern has a little shaping to the hem.

Not forgetting the pockets of course!

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These pics were taken in the grounds at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire. It’s the first time that we have ventured out doing anything like this since lockdown began, and whilst I still feel a little nervous around others, the numbers were strictly controlled by a ticket booking system.

Finally, a bit of fun. When you realise your husband is in the shot too! Ha!

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Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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Fibre Mood Lola

The latest edition of Fibre Mood magazine is available from today (issue 10), and I was lucky enough to receive a preview of the patterns and had the opportunity to choose my favourite and sew it up in time for the launch. *

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Whilst all of the patterns for issue 10 are contained in the magazine, they are available to purchase individually too.

This is the Lola, a dreamy ruffled sleeveless top, with an open back and neck ties, and as soon as I saw the selection for issue 10, this was the one that I was drawn to (although it was a difficult choice….) Regular readers will know that I have this thing for ruffles and ties, and this ticked both boxes!

 

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My fabric choice is the sweetest embroidered floral cotton from Lucky Fashions, and I couldn’t be happier with it. Excellent customer service from them by the way.

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I used the A4 print at home option of the PDF, and foolishly printed it out in it’s original format. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this, you will end up with every size, including the cutting lines and stitching lines of each size. As you can imagine this was quite ‘busy’ to look at and pick out the cutting lines that I wanted to trace off, so I highlighted the lines I needed before I traced out my size. If only I had followed the Fibre Mood guidance video here.

The pattern consists of 9 pieces, and is rated by Fibre Mood as a 3/5 in terms of difficulty. This project isn’t for the faint at heart, and is quite challenging to sew, and a fair bit of sewing experience under your belt is necessary I feel. The written instructions and illustrations are good, but sometimes I needed to bring in a bit of my own knowledge to fully understand them. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed sewing this blouse, and was delighted how well it came together.

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The only addition I made was to top stitch above the ruffle, catching in the seam allowance just to make sure that the ruffles behaved themselves and lay nice and flat. I mean, nobody has time for badly behaved ruffles do they! Ha!

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If you think that the blouse is pretty from the front – check out the back! How sweet is the elasticated open back and the neck tie?

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I made a straight size 38, and I think next time that I make this I will need to make a gaping neckline adjustment to the two back pieces where they attach to the neck ties (to allow those pattern pieces to lay more flat). A gaping neckline adjustment is something that I often have to do, and I feel that this would improve the fit for me at the back greatly.

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I hope that you like it as much as I do, it’s the perfect cool top on hot Summer days…

To celebrate each magazine launch, the Fibre Mood website showcases all of the garments that have been made in advance by bloggers from that issue. This is called a Link Party. The link party for this new magazine issue is called Link Party #14 and you can see my blouse along with lots of other inspiring makes from the latest magazine here.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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*This pattern was very kindly gifted to me to sew and share my honest opinions with you today, and this blog post contains affiliate links x

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I Am Patterns Perle ruffle dress

One small benefit of being on lockdown and on a reduced income in our household like many others, is using this time to work through my fabric stash. I can’t really justify spending on fabric at the moment when I have a few pieces at home already.

Whilst rummaging through it last week, I found this lovely soft linen. I’ve had it so long I cannot remember where I bought it from, but I really wanted to use it to make a dress, especially as linen is so comfortable to wear during this warm spell that we are having at the moment.

The pattern that immediately sprung to mind was the I Am Patterns Perle. Isn’t it a pretty pattern? It’s one that I’ve had for a little while now, and luckily I had *just* enough fabric for it. How satisfying to have exactly the right amount of fabric with zero leftover!

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It’s a simple classic wrap dress with a belt tie and ruffles around the neckline/dress front edge and cuffs. I absolutely love this design.

It really is very simple to sew, and if you like gathering then this is a dream! I don’t, but I absolutely LOVE ruffles, so it’s a necessary evil! The most time consuming part of making the dress by far, is evenly gathering the ruffle piece that runs around the neckline and down the front edge of the dress. This strip is about 3.5 metres long (before gathering) and so I sectioned up the dress and the strip and gathered it up in sections to make sure they would be as even as possible. It was totally worth all the effort!

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I finished the edges of the ruffle pieces by using the rolled hem setting on my overlocker. Perhaps not the best thread colour match, maybe a tad too pale, but at times like these you’ve got to make do with what you’ve got, yes? The neat finish of the finished edge was just what I wanted, and I quite enjoyed using my over locker for something different than I usually use it for. For this finish I needed to lower the blade and use 3 threads rather than the usual 4.

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So that’s all well and good, but as this is the first time that I had sewn this pattern I needed to make a few adjustments for me which I will use the next time I make it. Take a deep breath – there are a few ..

Firstly, the sleeves were a little too wide at the cuff for my liking. Luckily I pinned these and tried on before sewing so I was able to taper the sleeve seam from the underarm to the cuff. Nothing major there. I might make them a little shorter next time too.

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I just love this dainty cuff.

The main problem that I found after sewing was the position of the belt ties. This is probably something to do with the fact that I am only 5’2″ but they were WAY too low for me. I understand that the design of the dress wants you to tie the dress with a ‘tucked’ look, but let me show you how low the position was on me ..

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The position of the waist ties needed to be raised by about 6 or 7 inches. Now ideally I would have shortened the pattern at some point above the position of the waist ties before cutting out, but as this was effectively my ‘toile’ it was too late. So to make it fit I had to take drastic measures. I cut off  both the belts and saved the longer belt piece to make a separate loose belt. I sewed up the small openings in the side seams where the original belt would have been threaded through and attached slim ribbons inside that tied the dress from the inside securely before the final wrap and belt. These stop the inside front of the dress from dropping down below the outside cross over, Does that make sense – you know the sort of ribbons you often find inside your dressing gown.

By raising the position of the ‘waistline’ it has meant that the ‘skirt’ section of the dress is very much longer now. Again factor in my height, but I kind of like this length anyway. This of course would have been easy to shorten if I had wanted to.

Whilst not ideal, it fixed the problem, and like I say, I will make adjustments to the pattern piece before cutting next time. The only small thing now is the edge of the front wrap ruffle on the ‘skirt’ where the belt was originally attached is slightly shaped, rather than hanging precisely vertically,  but this is barely noticeable and doesn’t bother me. You might be able to see that slightly shaped ruffle edge on the above mirror photo.

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To stop the v-neck from gaping, I sewed a short length of stitching along the row of existing stitching to keep this neatly in place. I can still pop this on over my head.  You could also use a press stud or something similar.

Necklace layering accessories are the gold mirror acrylic scissors from my shop  and gold roman coin necklace from Missoma.

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Last but not least, the finishing touch for any Lockdown sewing project, are these stunning ‘made in self-isewlation’ labels from the lovely Sally at Modista Sewing  who is selling these cuties with all profits donated to the National Emergencies Trust. She has already raised over £1000!

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I look forward to making more of these beautiful dresses in the future (when I can face all that gathering again)!

Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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The Grace Skirt from Simple Sew

I have a few Simple Sew Patterns in my stash, but have never got around to making any of them up until now. I love a pleated skirt or dress, and have finally got around to making the skirt version of this pattern.

The Grace Dress and Skirts pattern  is a combination of dress tops and skirts that can be mixed together or simply made as a gathered or pleated skirt.

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Although I love a dress, I really wanted to make the pleated skirt as I have seen several versions online- especially on the lovely Becky @notes_from_the_sewing_room. Becky has made several stunning Grace Skirts and each time I see them it reminds me that I want one too!

I used a fantasic striped medium weight cotton, it almost has a kind of brushed texture – a bit like pyjamas brushed cotton – but not as soft. It has the perfect structure to hold the pleats and was an absolute bargain from Milton Keynes market last year some time. I still have some left and am hoping I have enough for a dress!

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I noticed that the back of the pattern envelope doesn’t give you the fabric requirements for the skirts only. Just the dresses. This didn’t matter to me, as I was using fabric from my stash that I had lots of, but might be disappointing if you were purchasing specifically for this pattern. I’m annoyed that I didn’t measure how much I used, but if you are unsure just lay the pattern pieces out on the floor and measure the length that you would need.

I also see that in the notions, the length of the skirt zip isn’t specified either, just the zip length needed for the dress. I have a bag of old recycled (ripped out of old clothes)! zips and just grabbed an 8 or 9″ that was the best match. It isn’t an invisible zipper, but that doesn’t matter to me.

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My teething problems with this pattern continued as I followed their method of inserting the in-seam pockets. I have never come across this method and didn’t get on with it. I unpicked and started again using the standard method that I always use. I decided to cut the stripes of the pocket in a vertical direction to save me from having to pattern match those stripes!

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Unfortunately the pocket placement is far too low for me, but to be fair this is a usual adjustment that I have to make – I don’t know why I didn’t check this before stitching. Tut tut.

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On the plus side, the design of the skirt is lovely. The pleats are really great and the fit on the waist is spot on. I wonder if the amount of ‘ poufiness’ that the pleats add to my hip width is a little unflattering on my pear shape, the jury is still out on that one. Anyhow, it is a skirt that I will wear in warm weather and cold.

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Is it even a new make if you haven’t had a swish in it?

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So, all in all, a few teething problems with this one, but nothing that couldn’t be sorted, and there’s no denying that there are some lovely versions of the skirts and dresses online.

Oh by the way, the red acrylic heart button necklace is available in my shop (also available in blue)! x

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Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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