This garment has been a long time coming. I have actually had this pattern cut out for over a year and have now finally got around to stitching it together. I had planned to have this sewn up in time for Autumn 2018, but time ran away with me and as it really isn’t the best wardrobe choice for the very cold Winter months, I thought it would be a good project to save and make in the Spring. Turns out in the run up to Spring I completely forgot about it, and so here we are, Autumn 2019, and I’ve made it at last.
Simplicity 8554 is a great little pattern for an unlined trench coat, with various choice options for you including the jacket length, sleeve style, side slits, pockets and belt. I chose to make View B which is the mid-thigh/knee length version – shown in blue at the top left of the pattern envelope below.
This jacket features side slits, which I really didn’t want, so I simply sewed these right up when sewing up the side seams. It has some really nice details including storm flaps either side at the front, gently rounded collar and lapels, good pockets and a lovely belt tie with soft points at each end.
I don’t know exactly what the fabric composition is unfortunately. It was a bargain purchase from Milton Keynes market a couple of years ago, and is a beautiful deep navy blue colour with the perfect amount of weight and drape for a trench coat like this. The quality is outstanding and I’m really happy with it. I’m afraid that a dark colour like this is sometimes tricky to photograph, particularly when inside.
As mentioned, the jacket is unlined. To finish off the edges of the facings inside, I used a length of handmade floral bias tape that I had made some time ago with the remnants from a previous project.
I also used my bias foot on the sewing machine to ensure neat and even stitching, and for the whole this worked great. Although, despite adjusting the foot to allow the needle to fall exactly where you want it to, you do need to keep you eye on what’s going on when you’re feeding it through – as it’s easy to allow the edge of the facing to ‘slip’ out of the bias if you’re not careful.
Aside from sewing up the side slits, the only other adjustments that I made were to shorten the length of the jacket by 1″, and the sleeves by 2″.
There is a small mistake on the pattern instructions. To achieve the belt width shown on the pattern envelope you need to use all 4 belt pieces that you will have already cut out. Step 27 of the instructions appears to ask you to sew just two pieces together and then fold them in half lengthwise which would in fact give you a belt which is half the width to that pictured.
The pattern is described as an ‘easy to sew’ project according to the wording on the envelope, and I would agree to a certain extent. It was fairly straightforward to sew, but I feel that you might need a little sewing experience to give you some confidence. The collar went in neatly with no problems at all, and the jacket has no buttons or other fastenings – it simply wraps around and is kept in place with the belt.
As is often the case with ‘The Big 4’ sewing pattern companies, there is a generous amount of ease built in, and I would probably size down at least one size if I were to make this again.
Many years ago, I spotted a lady wearing a jacket like this when I was out shopping. It was a warm day and she was wearing it with skinny jeans, the sleeves pushed up and sunglasses on her head. She looked lovely. It’s funny what you remember isn’t it? So several years later, I have finally made one for myself. I have used a heavyweight double jersey from Minerva Crafts and this was very kindly gifted to me as part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network.
The pattern is Butterick B5926, and I already had this in my stash – it was the free pattern from an edition of Love Sewing magazine a few months back.
My full review (all opinions are my own) can be found over at Minerva Crafts, so I’ll see you over there if you would like to find out more about this lovely little unlined blazer. We just need the temperature to rise by a few degrees now so that I can start getting some wear out of it!
Last weekend I was lucky enough to have attended the very first ‘Stitch Room Sewcial’ sewing get-together which was held at Loughborough University on June 15th and 16th.
It was organised by Lucy and Anne , who I know have been planning this for a very long time, and was attended by a small number of wonderful sewing enthusiasts that were a real pleasure to spend time with. Lucy and Anne were kindly helped by a friendly team of super assistants who were all keen to make sure the weekend ran smoothly and to schedule. I had met Lucy before and could not wait to spend some time again with this lovely lady, and although I hadn’t met Anne before I knew that she was going to be an inspiration to me as she has an impressive history of TV and theatre work, alongside her tutoring position at the University.
After we had all arrived, we were welcomed to ‘The Stitch Room’. We each had a domestic sewing machine to use over the course of the two days, and this was the first glimpse of all the the industrial machines that we could also take advantage of too.
Shortly afterwards, and after separating into two groups, we were shown around some of the textile work rooms in the University by the lovely Zara who used to work at the University before setting up her own screen printing business down in Weston-super-Mare. If anybody is thinking of learning a fun new craft or wants an unusual party idea, and is in that area, then do head on over to Zara’s website for some crafty inspiration.
We started off in the print rooms and were shown a demonstration of screen printing and some wonderful examples of designs that had been produced by the students. Hila gave it a go and produced a lovely example on her very first attempt – impressive!
Next came a visit to the weave shed, a fabulous room filled with stunning wooden looms (and other equipment), and we were shown around by Rosy. She showed us how traditional looms worked, including sharing with us a stunning scarf that she is currently working on, followed by a noisy demonstration of a machine producing Rosy’s pineapple jacquard. Just beautiful!
Following this, we were treated to a tour of the Stitch Room by Anne, who I quickly found out is the sweetest lady and just bursting with knowledge and kindness. She showed us how the industrial machines worked and how we could use them on the sewing projects that we had brought with us if we wanted.
Lunch was a very welcome break and gave us a chance to process everything that we had seen that morning and also gave us the opportunity to have a rummage through the fabric and pattern swap table that we had donated items for earlier on in the day. This fantastic cake was made by Becca of Calico and Cake – how talented is she?
I am still a bit overwhelmed with the contents of the goody bags, and cannot thank all the generous sponsors enough for their lovely gifts. A list of all of the sponsors can be found later on in the blog post.
Friday afternoon gave us all the opportunity to have professional photographs taken. We each brought 1 or 2 items and had a bit of fun in the photo studio at the University. I look forward to sharing a couple of my latest makes with you when the photos come back. Amongst all these activities there was plenty of sewing and chatting and before we knew it, it was 5pm and time to call it a day. As I live fairly close to the University, I drove home that evening, but I know that those who stayed in the nearby accommodation had a super evening out and a comfortable night in their hotel.
Sunday started with a bang as we had the chance to wander around the Textile Shows and view the work displayed by the students as part of their open day exhibition. I feel any photos will not do these inspiring displays justice, but take my word that the whole experience was pretty special. It is easy to see how the University is so highly regarded in this field.
A photo session outside later in the day was the cause for more laughter, and here is a rather failed ‘boomerang’ attempt which is too funny still not to share. Thanks to Kara for taking this for me.
Also love this still shot taken by the lovely Corrie, which pretty much sums up the mood of the weekend!
The rest of the day provided the opportunity for lots more sewing and a chance for myself and Heather to spend some time with Bee who helped us create some wonderful pieces on the University embroidery machines. So thrilled am I with this that it is already mounted in a hoop on my wall to remind me of this time spent with inspiring women.
Also in the embroidery room there was the opportunity to see Lucy demonstrating one of her machines from Sew Essential. At the time that she was doing this I was having my embroidery lesson from Bee, so didn’t manage to check this out, but I believe it was a coverstitch/overlocking machine with a jersey neckband attachment. Correct me if I’m wrong. How incredible! I am always quite amazed with the amount of machines that Sew Essential have available, do head on over and check them out, I know that Lucy and the team are always more than happy to answer any questions that you may have on any of their items.
Lots more sewing and chatting took us to the end of the day, when at 5pm it was time to pack up, say our goodbye’s to old friends and new, and head off home. I cannot thank Anne and Lucy enough for this super experience. Their kindness and generosity is very much appreciated, and spending time with them both has been my absolute pleasure.
As mentioned, the kind sponsors were also very generous and I would like to link them here for you if you would like to check them out:
Finally, although I did not complete my sewing project over the course of those two days, I have since finished it. It’s another New Look 6302 jacket which I recently made and blogged about here, but for this version I used a lovely linen look fabric from Sewessential in this pretty French Navy. As the fabric is fairly light, (and I was too lazy to line it), I decided to have a bit of fun and finish off all the seams inside with some homemade bias tape that I made from some ditsy floral fabric that I picked up from Stuarts Fabrics on Leicester market. I also used it to make some piping to use on the hem and cuffs of the jacket too. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out and plan on wearing it ALL the time!!
I feel very lucky to have recently been kindly sent the April subscription box from the French fabric and haberdashery store Craftine.
Sewing subscription boxes are becoming increasingly popular, and I could not wait to receive the box and see what goodies were inside!
So the boxes are sent over from France and they are issued every 2 months. I rather like this as it gives you enough time to plan and make your garment without rushing before the next box comes through! You never know exactly what your box contains but it will always have fabric, trims, a pattern and surprise items. You will also receive a colour booklet telling you everything you need to know about this month’s gift including information about your fabrics and how to care for them.
My box (which by the way is very cute, sturdy and will definitely be kept to store pretty sewing things inside) contained 2 pieces of fabric, a spool of matching thread, a belt buckle, paper pattern and some sweeties. The fabrics were a length of beige gabardine measuring 55×57 inches and some pastel tartan double weave cotton which measured 23×57 inches.
This months box focuses on Spring themed pastel colours and whilst I loved the fabrics and also the fact that they could be used to make a jacket, I didn’t think that I would necessarily suit the cropped trench coat suggested. So I had a hunt through my rather too large pattern collection and pulled out a pattern that I have never used before but which was a free pattern with a sewing magazine quite a long time ago – New Look 6302.
The fabric quantities were perfect for the little jacket (view D) and I could use the contrasting tartan fabric for the cuffs and waistband. Just right!
I am over the moon with how the jacket has turned out. It is a simple cropped jacket with long sleeves and contrasting cuffs and waist band. It has beautiful princess seams and I feel it can be worn with jeans to take you through these sometimes chilly months of Spring.
The jacket has an unbelievable 13 pieces, but don’t let that put you off. Great instructions take you through this fairly simple make easily and it actually didn’t take me that long to sew despite the large number of pattern pieces! If you chose to make the simpler cropped jacket without the contrasting bands (view C) it would be even quicker. Also as there are no fastenings I would recommend this pattern for all.
The only alteration that I made to the pattern ( I cut a straight size 12), was that I shortened the sleeve pattern piece before I cut it out by 5cm. Sleeves on coats and jackets are always too long for me so I pinned the pattern to my shoulder and roughly worked out how much I needed to lose for it to be the right length for my arm. If I had more time I probably should have made up a toile, as what I did is perhaps not the most accurate way to measure up for your sleeve length, but happily it worked out just fine for me. Phew!
The belt buckle provided in the box was not needed for this particular project so will be kept for something special another time. I’m grateful that Craftine have provided a handy tutorial for making it into a belt that I can refer to when that time comes.
If you are interested in more information about the Craftine subscription boxes for yourself or as a gift then you can head on over to the UK website for all the details. I believe that they can be purchased individually at £33.90 (free postage), or a years subscription of 6 boxes for £200. The French website allows you to browse through a large selection of their fabrics and haberdashery.
Thank you very much to the guys at Craftine for generously sending me this box to review. I have been happy to share with you today my honest thoughts and hope that you have enjoyed this slightly different blog post.
I am also thrilled that as a result I have had the opportunity to make up a pattern that has been sitting around in my stash for so long too. At the time of writing, there are several retailers offering New Look patterns at half price – just saying!!
Refashioning is something that I haven’t really given much thought to before, I’m slightly ashamed to admit. This Summer whilst attending The Sewing Weekender I was so chuffed to hear Portia Lawrie speaking. Firstly because she had just won The Dressmaker of the Year title with an incredible jacket made from old jeans and I was over the moon to actually get to see the jacket, and secondly because refashioning/upcycling/transforming something was something I wanted to know more about. Safe to say I was ‘suitably’ (do you see what i did there) impressed and knew that this year I wanted to give #therefashioners2017 a go.
Before I begin, you might like to take a little look over at Portia’s website where you can get all the details of this year’s challenge in full, but in a nutshell the challenge is to take an old suit or jacket – an unloved item that is not wanted anymore – and transform it into another wearable item of clothing!
First things first – to find the perfect suit or jacket. I knew I wanted something with some pattern or design, like a check or a dogtooth, and preferably in a very very large size so that I would have more fabric to ‘play with’. After several disappointing views at suits on eBay, I finally found my perfect jacket in the local LOROS charity shop. It was a jacket only (no trousers) and was the bargain price of £6.95
Best of all it was a whopping size 58″ chest so I figured that it didn’t matter that there weren’t trousers too as I should have enough to make a dress with the fabric on a jacket this size alone. Fingers crossed.
The dress that I wanted to make was New Look 6509, a pinafore style dress. I have had it for a while because I loved the look of view A. Fear not folks I am not tempted with any of the other ‘cut out’ views at my age…
In order to see how much fabric there was available, it was time to grab the seam ripper and dis-assemble the jacket. This was quite a lengthy process, and it was quite interesting to see the work and construction that goes into a suit jacket.
I traced out the pattern pieces that I needed and then it was just a case of jiggling them around until I managed to somehow cut out all the pieces that I needed. It was my intention to share with you lots of pics of this stage of the make, but as always I get carried away with wanting to sew and only got this one shot of one of the sleeves being used for a skirt panel.
Once constructed – this is the skirt panel that was made from the sleeve piece.
The dress came together nicely, as always with a New Look pattern the instructions are thorough and have clear line drawings to help you. The alterations to the pattern that I made were that I wanted to use an exposed metal zip rather than the recommended invisible so that I could continue with the recycle/upcycle theme. I recently came upon a huge bag of old zips in a charity shop for £1 and so used one of those for this project as I felt it was very appropriate.
Another change that I made was to the length of the straps. When it came to button placement (of course using the original suit buttons), I realised that the straps were too long, so removed the basting stitches, chopped off approx 2″, and re-basted into place before stitching.
Finally, I felt like I wanted to add a pocket on the front bib of the dress. So I simply used my trusty pocket pattern piece from my Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dress and cut a pocket on the cross grain, lined it up and popped it on. I love how it looks with the pocket.
With a limited amount of fabric, and a checked design, pattern matching was always going to be challenging. I managed it for some of the seams and not for others. Hey ho! I can live with it. The seams and darts line up nicely and it fits like a glove.
The bodice of the dress is lined, and of course I used the lining that was originally the jacket lining. There was plenty of this and so cutting this out from the pattern pieces was no problem at all.
This has been such a fun project, and I have enjoyed it way more that I expected to. For more inspiration from this sewing challenge do head on over to Instagram and search the hashtags #therefeshioners2017 and #suitsyou for lots of images. Be sure to follow Portia on Instagram for all the updates on the challenge, and if you haven’t entered this time you might want to consider a trip to the charity shop for your next fabric purchase. Instead of looking at the clothes as garments, imagine them as pieces of fabric that could be used for your next project. The bigger the size the better.
Thank you to Portia for the insane amount of work that must have gone into organising this challenge. It’s been great!
Some lovely sunny weather here in the U.K lately has really put me in the mood for Summer. I feel that a kimono is a really useful part of my Summer wardrobe, I own several and have made a couple ( if you are interested to see my review of another Simplicity kimono please click here).
However, as we all know the British weather can be unpredictable. So when I spotted this Simplicity 1108 kimono pattern which was the free gift in this months Sew magazine, I decided that I wanted to make it up in a cosy tropical jersey fabric. I am then covered (literally) if the temperature drops, but the tropical print still gives out the Summer vibe.
The fabric I chose is a really cheap jersey from the ‘£1 a metre’ stall at Leicester market. You can really pick up some bargains from this stall, but it is not there every day, I think I was there on a Thursday and happened to catch him that day. I only wanted 2 or 3 metres but he ‘threw in the rest’ and I probably ended up with 5 metres of it for £3. What a bargain! Beware – as a result you will be seeing lots more makes with this fabric!
Just a note here to mention that I used ballpoint pins on this project, and the ballpoint needle and twin needle on my sewing machine. It is important to use these when working with jersey as the rounded tips of the pins and needles glide through the fabric rather than cutting through it.
The pattern has several different options – short, medium or long length, and with or without the trim/band. I decided to go for view B, which on the pattern cover is the image on the bottom right corner.
Cutting out was straightforward as it is basically 2 x front pieces, 2 x back pieces and the pieces to make the band. Take your time when constructing the band and the band facing. It is easy to make an error here if you are not careful. Use the pattern notches to make sure your pieces are correctly placed together.
If I were making this in a regular silky fabric like a crepe, I would certainly take the time to use French Seams. As I was using a jersey fabric I decided that this would have been too bulky and chose to use the overlocker, this still gives a neat finish on the inside that I can live with. It also made it super quick to make up! – until you get to the band…
The band, when constructed, is basically a curved piece of fabric which attaches to the entire opening of the kimono. When attached, the seam allowances are clipped and the band facing is then attached to this. The seam allowances of the band facing then need clipping. All this snipping took me SUCH a long time, but it is worth it as the facing will lay nice and flat if you clip it thoroughly.
Interfacing is required for the band pieces, and this was the first time that I had used a knit interfacing. I had no problems with it, it was iron-on and did the job great!
A cute feature on this pattern is a small gathered section just at the back of the neck.
I decided to use the ‘cord’ method of gathering on this project – this is where you place a cord along the length you want to gather, then simply zig zag over the top taking care not to catch the cord with the zig zag stitches. Simply pull the cord to easily gather your fabric. I have seen this done using dental floss as the cord – I had some thick cotton cord in my sewing basket and used that – it worked great and allowed quite a chunky fabric to gather easily and smoothly. I will definitely be using this technique again!
I’m pretty pleased with how the kimono came out. I feel that the shorter version may have suited me better as I think this is a little long for me, but hey ho! never mind – I will still enjoy wearing it on those cooler Summer days and it will just keep me extra warm!
Just for reference – I am 5’2″
I should also mention that it does sew up a little on the large side. I understand from other reviews that this is how it is supposed to be, but you may want to take this into consideration when choosing your size.
It’s a great pattern, with a size range from XXS-XXL.
Sew magazine issue 99, July 2017, (which is still current at the time of posting this), has helpful hints and tips on fabric choices, tools, sizing advice etc.
‘ Yours truly’ also gets a mention in the magazine on page 37 where they announce the results of the Dressmaker of the Year competition. I won first place in the ‘ready to wear’ category, and will be writing a blog post on this soon.
I hope this review has been helpful, have you made a kimono recently? Have you used jersey? Do let me know how you got on as I love to read your comments.
Last month I wrote my first guest blog post for Minerva Crafts, and whilst I shared the pictures and links on my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts, I realised that I neglected to pop the details over here on my own blog!
The fabric is of course from Minerva, and if you would like to read my thoughts on this perfect Spring kimono jacket then you can head on over to read all about it here.