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A classic brown knee length Jenny Skirt

Today’s blog post is special, because I am trying my first pattern from the lovely Nicola and Susan at Homer and Howells.

Homer and Howells are an exciting new pattern company based in Scotland and as I write this post, there are two sewing patterns in their shop – the Jenny , and the Cissy. I know they have a few more patterns up their sleeves, so I can’t wait to see what comes next…

The Jenny is a classic skirt. Choose either midi length (with a front split), or keep it short like I did (I cut my length at where the top of the split is marked). Patch pockets on the front of the skirt are optional, and the centre front zip fly was really good fun to sew.

 

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I have chosen to make my version in a dark brown cotton drill. I can’t quite remember where I bought this fabric from – it might even have been something that I picked up in a fabric swap – but I had just enough to make the knee length version. Turns out that dark brown is REALLY hard to photograph, and despite two photo ‘sessions’ (one indoors and one outdoors), I don’t think we were able to really pick out the details of the skirt very well after all. Let’s hope you can get some sort of idea with the shots that we did get.

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Oh by the way, my top is the original Tessuti Fabrics Mandy Boat Tee (free pattern) using the ‘one size’ pattern before they introduced different sizes on this pattern, and the lilac acrylic scissors necklace is from my shop! x

I have kept the front of the skirt nice and simple by leaving off the patch pockets. I did however add some pockets to the back of the skirt (not part of this pattern), but more about that later!

I wanted the skirt to feel really casual, a bit like a denim skirt, so I went for the topstitching big time! I used a matching dark brown topstitching thread and used it on the waistband, the centre front and back seams, the curve of the fly zip, and the back pockets that I added.

It’s important to try and make that curved line of stitching on the outside of the fly zip as neat as possible as it is so visible, so to help me I used a tracing wheel and some dressmaking carbon paper to trace the stitching line onto my fabric. It takes all the guess work out of where to stitch, and you end up with it exactly where you want it.

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I have only put in a fly zip once before and that was a long time ago, so I did wonder how tricky it would be, but the instructions were really great – I followed them to the letter and everything just fell into place perfectly!

The curved waistband has a snug comfortable fit with no gaping at the back of course, and fastens above the zip with a hook and bar. I made a size 12 at the waist and graded out to a 14 at the hips by the way.

So finally, I wanted to add  ‘jeans’ pockets at the back seeing as how I wanted it to have a casual feel. I simply cut out two jeans pocket pieces and traced out the stitching design that I wanted using the tracing wheel and carbon paper again, stitched out that design onto the pocket with the topstitching thread again and placed it on the back of the skirt where I wanted them, again attaching with topstitching. Can you tell that I love topstitching things! Take a shot each time I say topstitching! Ha ha!

I must say that positioning the pockets was a lengthy process! Pinning and adjusting pockets on the back of a skirt by yourself is tricky, and having not made jeans before I’m not quite sure what the tricks are for the perfect pocket placements, but I don’t think they’ve ended up too bad.

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I’ve ended up with a really lovely skirt, and one that I know I will wear lots and lots. It fits well, I love the length and the neutral colour means that I can have fun wearing it with all my favourite coloured tights.

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Thank you so much to the girls at Homer and Howells, who very kindly gifted me this pattern with no obligations. I am happy to share with you though because I really like it and hope you do too!

What’s your ‘go-to’ simple skirt pattern? I’d love to know.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

 

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A Spring inspired Selkie Patterns London Skirt

I love this skirt.

This is the first Selkie patterns  garment that I have made and it’s a good one. Selkie Patterns are an exciting independent pattern and fabric design company which was founded a couple of years ago by two wonderful empowering women – Alexandra Bruce and Caroline Akselson. Their passion is sewing and design, with a strong belief in sustainability.

The London  is a 3 in 1 pattern, and features a blouse, skirt or dress.

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Although I’m very much in love with the dress version, I’m going to wait until warmer weather arrives for that, so in the meantime, I got stuck into the skirt.

So the skirt in a nutshell is knee length and features stunning box pleats front and back, the most adorable shaped waistband feature and a centre back zip fastening. Box pleats are my absolute fave and this is what drew me to this pattern in the first place.

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It is super easy to make. Just two pattern pieces are used, how great is that? I did have to shorten the length (as always)! and I think I took out about 10cm at the shorten/lengthen marking on the pattern before cutting out. I’m 5’2″ , so this is quite a normal adjustment for me.

I also decided to omit the sweet little gathers that should sit at the top of each side seam where it meets the waistband. I felt I wanted to keep this simple so simply pinched the excess (what would have been gathered) and graded out the side seam accordingly

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I realise that this fabric is very fussy, so a little difficult to show you all the details. The fabric by the way is something that I picked up at a fabric swap a long time ago. I think it’s a quilting weight cotton, which I think is not normally the best choice for dressmaking, but for a skirt with box pleats I thought the extra structure that this type of fabric has would be fab. I also love the busy floral print which is bright and happy.

Sizing, by the way, was spot on. Using the size chart and the finished garment measurements I worked out what size I wanted and it fits like a dream.

The instructions are really good. Beautiful hand drawn illustrations (in the style of the pattern cover), accompany thorough written descriptions and there is a helpful zip guide at the back to walk you through the steps needed to insert a regular zip.

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The waistband has a flap which fastens with a hook and eye.

Let’s just have a minute to talk about the dipped waistband. It’s lovely isn’t it? Sadly covered up by a big old jumper when we took our outside shots for this skirt, it is worth taking your time to get that shape just right. I actually drew my stitching line on the fabric before sewing so that the finished curve would be accurate.

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I really enjoyed making this skirt and have loved wearing it too. I already have the fabric and zip for my next version, so expect to see lots more London’s to come!

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Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

 

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The Yanta Overalls from Helen’s Closet

I’m pretty sure that you have seen these overalls popping up all over the place since their release about a month ago.

The Yanta Overalls from Helen’s Closet are the cutest relaxed fitting dungarees you have ever seen. They feature a classic v-shaped back and button strap fastenings and have an optional size zip. Patch pockets on the front, back and bib are yours to choose from and there is an option for full/cropped length or a Summery shorts version.

The size range is incredible on this too . Sizes 0-30 are accommodated in with this pattern – how awesome is that? I cut a size 10 at the bib grading out to a 12 at the hips.

This is actually the first time that I have sewn a Helen’s Closet pattern and going on what I had already heard regarding her patterns, I knew that it would be an enjoyable process.

 

As expected, her instructions are clearly written and helpful. Helen describes this as an intermediate pattern and I would agree with that.

My fabric choice is the Ikea Lenda fabric – not the best fabric in the world, but at £5 per metre, it was perfect for trying out this pattern. I think if I made it again I would go for a slightly more lightweight fabric as I feel this looks a little too crisp for the look that I was going for.

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Before I cut out the fabric, I adjusted the length. This pattern is drafted for a 5’6″ body, and as I am only 5’2″, I needed to remove 2″ from the length (that is the 4″ difference divided by 2). This worked out perfectly in terms of leg length, but I think I might need to shorten the crotch length next time I make them as it is a little baggy there.

I loved the wording and illustrations in the instructions – especially the little tips giving explanations regarding why some of the techniques were being used.

I left out interfacing my straps as I felt they had enough structure anyway, and they were fine without.

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The scissors necklace is available for purchase from my website.

The waist at the front and back is nipped in with small darts. This is such a great feature as whilst they are still loose, you have a certain amount of shaping there which is very useful I think – especially when your waist to hip measurement difference is quite big like mine.

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A 5″ invisible zipper is also an option although not always necessary. I could have just about slipped these over my hips without it, but decided to add a zip just to make things easier. I didn’t have an invisible zip of that length, so just used a regular zip here instead.

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The patch pockets on the front and back are cute and whilst I used them on the back of the overalls, I wasn’t sure that I wanted them on the front. I decided that I would insert in-seam pockets instead. After inserting the zip (which I didn’t think that I would want initially), I realised that the in-seam pockets wouldn’t now fit on that side now, but still kept it on the other side. I mean, a girl needs pockets. Not sure if this feels a bit odd just having it on one side, so may try the patch pockets on the front next time if I still need to use the zip.

For the pocket bag I used the same floral fabric that I used for the front and back facings.

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I like the shape of the bib pocket. It has a upward triangular shape to the top edge and I enjoyed the placement of it and all the top stitching details. Top stitching is part of sewing that I really enjoy and this pattern has plenty of it! I particularly like the stitching details on the back strap too.

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I think if I’m honest when I sewed the back of the bodice to the facing with the straps enclosed inside, I didn’t make the best job of it. I think I got a little confused with the two different seam allowances (3/8″ and 5/8″) for this step and may have gone a little wobbly. Luckily this seemed to look alright from the right side, but my facing on the inside has a little ripple in it. Nobody will see this and you’re not going to tell anybody are you? Ha!

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The length of the straps are trimmed when you have finished the garment, and I needed to cut approx 4″ from each strap.

I didn’t finish the legs of the overalls apart from overlocking them, as I know that I will always wear them turned up a couple of times.

I cannot recommend this pattern highly enough if you are considering this style of make in the future. It’s cute, fun to sew, and super comfortable to wear. What’s not to love!

 

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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My Cocowawa Crafts Honeycomb Dress

This is an exciting blog post to share today – my review of the brand new sewing pattern from Cocowawa Crafts.

I’m incredibly flattered to have been chosen as one of the pattern testers for the Honeycomb and when the design details came through I could not have been more delighted. It’s right up my street!

 

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I’m sure that most of you will be aware of the wonderful range of adorable patterns available over at Cocowawa Crafts, but if you haven’t nipped on over before, then I would certainly encourage you to check out this lovely independent pattern company which has the sweetest range of sewing patterns for women and children, available in English or Spanish, in your choice of printed pattern or PDF. Their website (linked above) allows you to access the Cocowawa blog where you can check out tutorials, sew-along’s and all round sewing inspiration.

It doesn’t stop there! The delightful Ana who is the owner and designer behind the brand can also be found regularly posting videos on her YouTube channel where you can find a mix of sewing tutorials, hauls and sewing chats! Most excitingly there is a brand new video especially taking you through every step of the construction of the Honeycomb Shirt and Dress!  For those of us who love visual instructions and sew-along’s, this is soooo helpful! It’s impossible not to be bowled over with Ana’s kind, sweet nature and this is totally reflected in her cute but wearable designs.

Ooh, one last thing here, Ana hosts a friendly sewing chat over on her Instagram page every Wednesday where you can join in with fellow sewists to discuss a sewing related question each week. Affectionately called the #sewinghourchat it’s a lovely way to connect with like minded members of the sewing community.

So, some of the features of The Honeycomb are a pretty Mandarin stand-up collar, front button placket, and pretty ties at the side panels to make fitting nice and simple. The shirt version comes with a cute gathered peplum and the dress option has a gently gathered midi length skirt. Four sleeve options give you the choice of sleeveless, short, regular long or long with bows. I can never get enough bows so it was always going to be the long sleeve version with bows that I made first, but no doubt further versions that I make will use different sleeve lengths.

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The great thing about this pattern is that the many sleeve options allow it to become a dress for all seasons, choose a sleeveless version made in a lightweight cotton fabric for those warm summer months and step up to a long sleeved version (with or without bows) made in a cosy corduroy, velvet or denim for when the temperature is cooler. I chose to make my tester version using a wonderful viscose from Material Magic in Leicester. I love the colour warmth of the browns and burnt oranges and well, you know me, I am never far from a floral print!

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The dress is finished really nicely on the inside, with the yoke and facing being neatly attached using the ‘burrito’ technique, ensuring that all of your raw edges are hidden inside the yoke. Don’t worry if you are new to this method, it is fully explained in the instructions or simply head on over to the YouTube video mentioned above if you would like some visual assistance with this.

I love that the Honeycomb has a Mandarin collar. It’s simplicity is what makes it so special and I must admit I am pretty pleased with how mine turned out. Again great instructions with illustrations will help you through this part as will the YouTube video. How did we ever manage before YouTube! Equally pretty worn buttoned or unbuttoned, the choice is yours.

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Construction of the bodice before the sleeves were added.

Even though we are moving in to Summer here in the U.K I could not resist making the long sleeved version with the bows. I really like the length of the ties – when they are tied into a bow, they are the perfect length and you will NOT find the ends dangling into your food!

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The side bows are not only sweet to look at but allow you to adjust an intentionally loose bodice to get a closer fit. Pretty and functional too!

The skirt of the dress has in-seam pockets. Yeeeeeessssssss!!!! So happy about this! Gentle gathers give the dress just the right amount of fullness without being too much.

This pattern offers the opportunity for some of us to try some new sewing techniques. Lots of lovely features such as princess seams, darts, plackets, burrito technique, buttons and button holes, mandarin collar and those ties offer the chance to try out new skills (or perfect old ones)! and whilst it’s not the quickest sewing project that there is, taking it slowly step by step will provide you with a very satisfying garment at the end. I will certainly wear my Honeycomb Dress with pride and will reach for this pattern again as I know one will not be enough!

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I know as the weeks progress we will all be able to access lots of Honeycomb inspiration on social media by searching for #cwhoneycombshirt #cwhoneycombdress #honeycombshirt #honeycombdress and #cocowawapatterns and in the meantime I would like to share a link on the Cocowawa website which shows all the wonderful pattern tester versions where you can find shirts, dresses and various sleeve lengths. I was certainly in good company when making up this dress and am very inspired by all these lovely creations!

How lovely is this mustard linen dress that Ana has made?

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Not forgetting the shirt! All the heart eyes for this one too!

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I had great fun making up this dress, and it was such a privilege to work with Ana and alongside all the other talented sewists involved with this project. I look forward to admiring lots of lovely Honeycomb shirts and dresses popping up on social media over the coming weeks and can’t wait to see everybody’s makes.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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