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.
I have been eyeing up this jumpsuit for ages, it’s an incredibly popular pattern which has been all over Instagram for quite some time now, and I finally got around to making it a couple of weeks ago.
I wanted something special to wear to The Sewing Weekender recently, and decided that this could be the time to make my first jumpsuit. New Look 6446 is a great pattern with several options. I made view C which is the version photographed on the pattern cover, there is a shorter leg length version included in this pattern, as well as the option to make a knee or maxi length dress. It has a square neckline with shoulder straps and a belt.
I absolutely love the fabric choice shown in the picture on the pattern cover, and decided to choose something similar to make up my toile. I didn’t want something too expensive, but was hoping that it might be wearable, so opted for some Ikea Lenda fabric, which was only £5 per metre. I only needed 2 metres for this project. The fabric is a lovely teal colour, but perhaps not the best quality, I’ve only washed it a couple of times since I made it and suspect it might be prone to some bobbling in the not too distant future, but it certainly is wearable in the meantime, and I am very happy with how it turned out.
My measurements put me at a size 14, so this was my starting point. I enjoyed the construction process, particularly how the bodice is lined. I used a pretty blue floral cotton for my bodice lining. This was a leftover piece that I had in my stash, and whilst it’s difficult finding room sometimes to store all these leftover bits and pieces ( I sometimes think my leftover stash is bigger than my main fabric stash)! eventually you find a use for them.
The fit was spot on for me, apart from a small gape on the bodice underneath my arms. Something that a dart might fix, but as I only discovered this fit issue after I had sewn it up (including the bodice – doh!) I decided that the quickest way to fix this was to unpick the bodice and bodice lining and pinch in approximately 1.5cm from the top edge of each side seam and sew/grade this down to the waist seam.
The shoulder straps were way too long for me, and I found that I had to trim 10cm from the length of these. It took me a long time to decide what leg length I wanted and after a great deal of deliberation and lots of research into images of this pattern on the internet, I removed 10cm from the leg length too, which left me with a 1″ seam allowance for the hem. Just right.
The jumpsuit is fastened/unfastened with an invisible zip at the centre back, and it’s nice and easy to reach without help which is always a bonus. I love the little pleats at the front of the trouser legs, (it has darts at the back), the belt tie is the perfect length and looks really cute. Oh, and it has pockets!
As soon as I put this jumpsuit on, I loved it. It was definitely the outfit that I wanted to wear on day 1 of the Sewing Weekender and in fact I decided to quickly cut out another to take with me as the project that I wanted to sew that weekend too. For this version I used this beautiful stretch cotton twill which I really love, but if I’m honest it has a little too much stretch in it and the finished result doesn’t fit me as well as my first make. You live and learn!
Again I lined the bodice with a cute floral leftover fabric, and finished it off with one of the wonderful gifts that we were lucky enough to have received in our goody bag at the weekender, which was this super cute clothing label kindly given to us all by Sew Me Sunshine.
I cannot recommend this pattern highly enough, and think it looks really cute as it is, but hope I can get some wear out of it in the cooler months with the addition of a cardigan over the top or a t-shirt underneath.
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 am so very lucky to have been gifted a couple of sewing patterns recently from Simplicity New Look and this is my review of the second. (the other review is for New Look 6449 and can be found here). I first spotted this pattern last October during the #sewbrum meet up when a lady next to me won it as one of the prizes in the raffle. I quickly took a picture of it to remind me of the pattern number and when this opportunity came along recently I jumped at the chance to choose and sew a pattern that I have been interested in making for a little while now.
So as you can see from the image, New Look 6533 is a babydoll dress or tunic, for knit fabrics, with different sleeve options and length choices. It also has a legging pattern included.
I chose to make view D, but with a couple of small adjustments. I didn’t want the side slits so just went right ahead and sewed the side seams as a normal skirt. I also added my own in-seam pockets as this pattern does not include them. As usual I just used my favourite pocket piece from another pattern and measured where I wanted them to be placed, and added them at the time of sewing up the side seam as normal. I decided to reduce any risk of bulk by using a scrap of chiffon type silky fabric that I had in my stash. It has a geometric design, and thought it would be a fun pocket fabric for this make.
I also didn’t want the hi/lo hem that this pattern features. So I simply cut 2 skirt front pieces (rather than use the longer skirt back piece) ensuring a regular even hem.
I am so in love with the fabric that I used for this project. I’m quite keen to introduce more grey tones into my wardrobe and this pretty jersey has been in my stash for a few months now waiting for the perfect pattern! It’s a cotton jersey from Girl Charlee UK and has 5% spandex. I’ve had a quick look at their website to see if I can link it for you, and have found this gorgeous almond colourway . How pretty is this colour? – so tempting!! I’m not sure if the grey is still available, or maybe I have just missed it..
Take good care when choosing your size for this pattern. My finished garment measurements put me down as an XS size! ( which I would definitely not describe myself as – I am a UK size 12 ish). As you can see, the finished dress is still quite roomy, I probably would have sized down even more if I could, but I get that this relaxed fit is part of the babydoll style and I think it’s cute.
To complete the dress you need to add some clear elastic at the waist seam. (the skirt is already gathered before attaching to the bodice), and whilst I felt I definitely still needed this elastic, I wanted the bodice at the front to lie smooth and flat and didn’t want the elastic at the front to produce any gathers on the bodice, so I just added the elastic at the waist seam at the back of the dress as this seemed to be where is especially needed cinching in, and this worked for me.
I have made several jersey dresses in a similar style to this, but this one is a little different in that the waist seam sits higher due to the babydoll style. I like the different options that there are on the pattern – the tunic style with slits and leggings may be something that I could try as this is different to what I would normally go for, and I also think the elastic cuffed long sleeves shown in view B are cute and I will definitely use these another time.
The pattern comes with your standard tissue pattern pieces and step-by-step instructions accompanied with black and white illustrations. It was nice and easy to make (although the clear elastic may require some care if you are new to this method), and it was a quick and rewarding project which is always a winner! You can definitely play around with the pattern as I have, adding pockets, adjusting the side slits and sleeves. Patch pocket would be cute on this dress too don’t you think? Maybe ruffles on the sleeves…
I was happy with the neckline, it’s always a relief when these lay nice and flat, and as always I finished this off with the twin stretch needle, along with the sleeves and skirt hem.
Thank you to Simplicity New Look for gifting me this pattern to review. I had great fun making it and it gave me the perfect opportunity to pair it with this wonderful fabric that I had been waiting to use for so long.
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!
I was really pleased when I heard that Simplicity New Look were holding another sewing challenge. To celebrate 90 years of creative sewing they launched a competition for all to create and share an item of clothing from a choice of 5 patterns.
I loved pattern 8383 the most, but as this pattern was for newcomers I was unable to choose it. This left the decision between the Vintage Make and the Dressmaker patterns (as I did not want the Childrenswear or Menswear pattern), and in the end I opted for the Vintage Make pattern as I preferred the jersey top on this and decided that I could hack it into a dress with the addition of a contrasting jersey skirt.
I have some jersey fabrics in my sewing stash, but for this project I needed two pieces that would work together, so a little shopping trip into Leicester was required (shame …not)! and the result was this pretty Autumnal berry coloured super soft jersey for the top and a matching berry floral design on a dark background for the skirt. These little gems were from Stuart’s Fabrics on Leicester Market, he has some great jersey fabric at the moment.
The pattern is a great one to have. There are 2 versions of the tie front top – either a halter neck or tiny cap sleeves. Also included is a ruffled wiggle skirt and cropped pedal pushers. I stuck to the tie front top and knew that I wanted to hack it into a dress as that way I would get more wear out of it.
The construction of the top is straightforward, as usual with Simplicity, and it took very little time to cut out and sew up. There were no surprises and nothing complicated. I cut a straight size 12 and the only alteration I made was to shorten the length of the shoulder straps by about 3.5 cm as they felt a little too long as they were.
In order to make it into a dress though, I now needed to take off about 11 or 12 cm from the length of the body. A bit drastic, but this means that the waist seam of the dress sits on my natural waist. By the way, I loved the length of it as a top, and had I been leaving it as a top it would have been the perfect length – not too short and not too long!
The skirt was easy to add. A simple full or half circle skirt is fun, and gathers was also something I considered. But in the end I simply chose a skirt from a dress pattern that I have already made and used that! I simply stitched it to the top, made a casing for some elastic from the seam allowance, popped in the elastic to give a very subtle gather, and it was done!
I love a dress without fastenings that you can throw over your head and you’re good to go. Hooray for jersey knits!
Although all the detail in the design is focussed on the front of the top, the back is pretty to look at too. A small amount of gathering across the back allows for a comfortable fit and makes sure it stays in place!
Thank you to Simplicity New Look for the pattern, and congratulations on your 90th celebrations. It’s been fun trying to decide how to be creative with this pattern, and lots more inspiration can be found on social media using the hashtag #SimplicityTurns90