Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Sew Over It - Vintage Shirt Dress

This is some of the fabric that I bought while visiting my friend in England, and I had planned to make another Simplicity 2444.  I was inspired by Lara's gorgeous button-back version, and had even bought buttons to match; but after the success of drafting my own collars, the plans got changed, and I made the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress.


I drafted the bodice from my block (and am still quite staggered that it worked!), and the skirt is from the pattern.  The instructions were really easy to follow, especially on the collar, as I hadn't sewn one like this before.

I mentioned in my last post about my problem with the gaping placket - I added a buttonhole as suggested by Knitlass (thank you!) using Handmade Jane's tip, which was inspired by Emmie's tip - and it made a big difference.  So I thought I'd try horizontal buttonholes, just to see how they turned out; I'd spotted them on Clarinda Kaleidoscope's version, and liked the look of them.  And the interesting thing is that they didn't gape as much as on the chambray Hawthorn dress.  I mentioned this to Andrew (who is not a sewing expert), and he said, "maybe it's the fabric".  Now, this was said just to agree with me in my general sewing ramblings, but I think he was onto something!  This fabric is a woven cotton, and the chambray is definately a slightly looser weave.

I cut this out before the Hawthorn dress was finished, due to running out of thread, so obviously hadn't got to wear the Hawthorn yet.  And something that I've noticed is that the waist is a bit high.   In the photo below my hand is at my waist, which is about level with the fourth button down (I missed the fifth buttonhole when I was buttoning it up!).  The waist seam is about 1 inch above the fourth button.  I can live with it on this dress though, and will add a bit of length to my bodice block.  I'm hoping this will resolve my problems with buttonhole placement, and I will be able to make room for that elusive fourth buttonhole.


I didn't realise the collar was caught up until I looked at my photos!

I love this dress!  The fit is brilliant, and I'm delighted with my print matching. I had 2.5 metres of fabric, which was 45 inches wide, and just managed to squeeze my dress out of it with only scraps to spare.  The fabric is Amy Butler, the pattern is called Angelica, and I got it for £6 per metre.

My favourite bit is the collar.  I'm am over the moon at having finally made something other than a flat collar, and my next dress will have a shirt collar.  It will be made with the last of my fabric that I bought in England, and I originally had different plans for it too.  I'm spotting a theme...

Have a great week,


Monday, 20 July 2015

Hawthorn dress

Thank you all for your comments on my pattern drafting class post.  I was amazed that so many people found it interesting!  So, without further ado, here is the dress I made from the pattern that I drafted in class.

It's the Colette Patterns Hawthorn dress, but with princess seams on the bodice.  I showed you my toile in my last post,

but, as this is a summer dress, I decided not to add the sleeves.  I also lowered the top of the princess seams and made the collar a bit narrower.  My fabric is some chambray that I bought last summer from Calico Laine.  I also have it in lilac, and am going to make another version without the collar.

This would have been finished about a week ago if I hadn't have ran out of thread!  We had a public holiday here last week, and I wasn't sure if the fabric shop would be open to buy some more, so I ordered some on ebay and had to wait for the Postie to deliver it, so only got the dress finished yesterday.  But, on the other hand, my next dress is nearly finished!  It just needs buttons, and the armholes need finished. 

I am absolutely delighted with the collar, it sits perfectly.  I had a bit of trouble sewing the princess seams, and ended up having to ease them in.  I measured my pattern, and the stitching lines are all the right length, so I might reduce the seam allowance to see if that helps for next time.

I have to show you how my teacher showed me how to made the button plackets.  They are drafted all in one piece with the centre front.

Here's the bodice front with the facing extending out from the front edge.  The green vertical line is the fold line, with the placket to the right.
And here it is with the placket folded back on the bodice front.
Right side on the left, wrong side on the right.

The first thing to do is to interface the placket.  In the photo below, the piece on the left is the right hand side bodice with the wrong side facing up.  The interfacing finishes at the fold line where the placket folds back on itself.  The piece on the right is the left hand side bodice, right side facing up. 

And here are both pieces with the placket folded back in place on the wrong side.  You can see the infacing on the left piece where I've folded over the neck edge.

I attached the bodice front sides, and sewed the front and back bodice together at the shoulder seams.  I then sewed the back neck facing to the front plackets.  You can see this at the bottom of this photo.

Then I layed the bodice out, right side up, and basted the collar onto the neckline.  You can just about see the edges of the collar at the front neckline in the photo below.  Next I folded the plackets and back facing, right side down, onto the bodice, and sewed it in place.  In this photo, it is pinned in place.

I hope that makes sense!  It's the same method of construction for any flat collar and facing, but in this case the edge of the placket extends out from the bodice front instead of being sewn on separately.  I'd never come across this before, and was quite taken with it!  I'd love to know if anybody else has seen this before.


I top stitched the hem, placket edge, collar and armholes with the triple stitch on my machine; and also finished the armholes with some bias tape.


Looking at these photos, I see some gaping at the front.  I thought I had lined the middle button up with the centre of the bust, but it looks a bit high.  I can sort this out on the next button-front dress that I make, because it did seem a bit strange to me to only have three buttons on the bodice front!  I can sew a fastner on this dress and see if that helps.  It's a pity I've already sewn the buttonholes on my next dress though!

I'm delighted with my dress, and am full of ideas for more self-drafted garments!

Have a great week!


Monday, 6 July 2015

Pattern drafting class

I don't have any new makes to show today, so feel free to skip on if that's what you're here for - I won't be offended!  Today I want to talk about my pattern drafting class that I mentioned in my last two posts, because this has been all-consuming for me for the last three weeks!

First of all, I have to tell you how I came upon it.  You may remember that I had been doing the on-line pattern drafting classes on Craftsy (which are brilliant).  The fit on my bodice was great, but I was having a lot of trouble when I added sleeves.  The back would pull between my shoulder blades (cross back), and I was having a lot of trouble with the back shoulder darts.  Adding a collar turned it into a red hot mess.  I did a lot of work on the sleeves/collar issues over the bank holiday weekend at the start of May, and was pretty disappointed when it turned out to be a disaster.  Wearing sleeveless garments all year round is not an option in Northern Ireland, so in desperation I googled "pattern drafting Belfast".  All my sewing prayers were answered when I found The School Of Pattern Design And Sewing website.  I looked through the whole website, and had to check twice that it really was in Belfast in Northern Ireland!

Before I go any further, I just want to say that I paid for my class myself, and I didn't even mention my blog to my teacher as I was so busy soaking up all the pattern drafting knowledge!  The lady who runs it is called Pat, she teaches fashion design at Belfast Met College and is a complete superstar!  I had initially emailed her about one-to-one classes, and she suggested the pattern drafting class that isn't on the workshop list.  It was over three Mondays from 15th June, cost £280, and was completely brilliant.  I haven't looked forward to a Monday morning so much in my life!

The maximum number of people on the class would be four, but there was only me and another lady.  Pat provided our text books, which was "Metric Pattern Cutting For Women's Wear" by Winifred Aldrich, metal right-angle metric rulers and loads of dots and crosses pattern making paper.  

In the first class we did our measurements, which is were I realised where I was going wrong on my own because I had my shoulder measurement too short, which affected the cross back.  Then we drafted our blocks.  If you've done the Craftsy class, then you'll know that you need a lot of measurements; we didn't need so many for this method.  The book explains how to do the draft, but there would have been a lot of head scratching without Pat's help.  For example, she took one look at me and knew my bust was larger than average for my frame.  She was then able to add some height to the front shoulder on my draft to lengthen the bodice front.  That wasn't in the book, and because I like to ask all the questions, I wanted to know how I would have fixed it if the extra hadn't been added, and the answer was a full bust adjustment.  Also, both of our armsyces looked a bit different that in the book, but Pat said they were ok, and she was right!  Then we sewed our toiles, and both only had to pinch in a little bit from the bust to the armhole.


Here's my toile.  You can see the diagonal darts going up from the bust point to the armsyce.  This is the bit that got pinched out, and was only about a centimetre at the armsyce.  Below is the finished bodice block.  The front is on the left, and the back on the right.  Hopefully you can see the fish-eye darts in the middle, and on the front there is one large dart extending up to the neckline.  On the back there is a small shoulder dart.  To draft a bodice with a separate skirt, you cut along the waistline in the middle of the fish-eye darts, and just work on the top half.

In the second class we drafted and sewed our sleeves.  Mine ended up needing a bit of work, but we got it sorted out.  I still need to trace it onto some card though.

Then we did some dart manipulation.  


On the left is an underarm/horizontal bust dart, and on the right is an armhole dart.  These were made by firstly drawing a line where the new dart should be, and then cutting along one leg of the large dart going into the neckline.  The neckline dart gets closed up, revealing the new dart.  So in these examples, the waist dart would also be sewn.

Then we drafted some collars.  This was a revelation for me because I've only ever sewn a flat Peter Pan collar as I never knew how to alter a collar with a stand to fit me.  The weekend after that class I fell down a collar-drafting rabbit hole!  Here's what I made:


First of all is a convertable collar, and horizontal bust darts.  This is the collar we drafted in class.  Please excuse the scrappy facings and lack of removing tailor tacks in these photos!  I was so excited about my collars, that I didn't want to waste any precious collar sewing time! 

Then there is a shirt collar, with diagonal darts coming up from the side seam corner.  I was beside myself with how well this turned out, and I found a brilliantly easy explanation on how to sew it in my Granny's Simplicity Sewing Book.

After all this success, I was dreaming of all the lovely collared garments I could make, and remembered about the new Sew Over It Vintage Shirt dress pattern.  Thank goodness for the instant gratification of PDF patterns, because it was the work of a few moments to click on buy, and start printing!  Then I'm not really sure what came over me, but I decided it would be no problem to draft it from my block.  And it flipping well worked!!

I sewn one pleated dart as on the pattern, and one waist dart to see which I liked best.  The pattern instructions for sewing the collar were really easy to follow.  I'm going to add a toile of the skirt to see how it looks, and then I can't wait to sew it up properly.

Pat asked us to think of a garment that we would like to draft, so we could do it in our last class.  I wanted to do the Colette Hawthorn Dress, as that is what I'd had all the trouble with myself.  To be a bit different, I wanted to use princess seams on the bodice, so we ended up drafting princess seam blocks from our original blocks.

The front is on the left, the back on the right.
Then Pat showed me how to change the bottom half of my block to make a wider skirt.  It was really simple.  We cut a straight line from the bottom to the base of the dart, then divided between the side seam and dart in two, and cut up to the waist.  The dart got closed up, and then the three strips were be widen by however much I wanted, and the spaces filled in.  I hope that makes sense, because it was so easy, and is the basis of any skirt shape. 

The front is on the left, the back is on the right.
I finished drafting my pattern, spent last weekend making a toile, and here it is!  Not too shabby, even if I say so myself!  It fits perfectly, and I can move my arms (which is always helpful!).

I'm delighted with the collar though, as it is sitting perfectly.   Unlike the complete and utter dogs dinner of a collar that I had drafted myself.  It turns out I had been messing with the back darts when I shouldn't have!

What the beep?!

I'm thinking of lowering the curve on the princess seams, and also making the collar a bit smaller.  It serves me right for not measuring the collar on the pattern first!  I like the bigger collar though, and think it would look nice on a winter dress.  So if anybody wants me, I shall be surrounded in paper and sellotape in true Blue Peter style - and if you got to the end of this post, I congratulate you because I didn't realise that I had so much to say!!

Have a great week,


Sunday, 28 June 2015

Bronte and Agnes tops

My old, irrational, fear of knit fabrics has been well and truly banished as I have been sewing so many jersey tops lately, that my sewing room has turned into a one-person production line!  Oh knit fabric, how I love that you are so forgiving in fitting!
My first top was this stripey long-sleeve version of Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top.  I bought this pattern when it was on sale before Christmas, and the fabric is a jersey/viscose mix from Craftswoman Fabrics in Carrickfergus.

This was so easy to make!  The instructions were a breeze to follow, and I used the lightning bolt stitch on my machine as suggested.  I machine-stitched (instead of hand-stitching) the overlap down at the front of the shoulders by sewing on top of the neckband top-stitching.

I loved it so much that I decided I needed many more, so ordered some black double knit fabric - I think it was from The Village Haberdashery.  The double knit turned out to be thicker than I expected, but that meant I could make some for the winter!

The colour is quite grey in this photo, but it was very sunny when I took it.  I sewed some buttons onto the shoulder overlap, but didn't have enough for both tops.  Also, please take a moment to admire the lovely fence that my tops are hanging on!  I gave up a Saturday afternoon of sewing to help Andrew put that fence up.  Not to mention the ages that it took to cut down the climbing honeysuckle that was there before.  It had to go because the trellis it was on broke in a winter storm.  Then I got the fantastic job of sitting on top of the oil tank with a paint roller to paint the bit of fence behind it!  But I digress...

More fabric was ordered; this time some jersey/viscose mix from My Fabrics, and two short-sleeve versions were made.
I have two RTW tops similar to these that get worn a lot with my skirts, so it's great to be able to make some more myself.

I had planned to make another Bronte with some red and white stripey jersey/viscose that I also bought from My Fabrics, but then Tilly released the Agnes Top, so I made it instead.

I made the version with out the gathered front, and with the gathered sleeves.  I love these sleeves so much!  I hadn't sewn anything like this before, so it was a bit of trial and error to get the elastic right.  I used my walking foot when sewing all my tops, but changed back to the normal presser foot for the sleeve elastic so that I could get a grip of the top of the sleeve head.  I got there in the end though.
The one thing that I'm not happy with (I'm being really picky, and it was my own fault) is the topstitching on the neckband.  I couldn't get my twin needle to work properly, and a line of straight stitches just looked like puckering, so I used a zig zag stitch.  It looks fine, but it's too far away from the neckband because I forgot to trim the seam allowance!  

I'll know for next time though because I've already got some fabric to make more!  

Tomorrow is my last day at my pattern drafting class (sob!), and I spent all of yesterday and this morning drafting and sewing different types of collar.  I see a lot of collars in my future!

Have a great week!


Monday, 22 June 2015

Clemence Skirt

You know when you make something, and you love it so much that you can't stop wearing it?  And then you think, "I really must wear something else, or people will think I'm gross"?  Well, that's this skirt.


It's the Clemence skirt from Love At First Stitch. My fabric is some border print wax cotton that I bought on ebay last summer with the intention of making a gathered skirt.  Then I never got around to it because I sort of fell out of love with the fabric.  That was until a few weeks ago when I saw this skirt by Veronica Darling.   It was the metal zip and the contrast hem that did it!  I wanted to pinch Veronica's skirt straight away; and as we are the same height, it would most likely fit.  But as she is in Shanghai, and I am in Belfast, I thought it would be easier to make my own!  And there must be something in the air, because Lara from Dreaming Of Avonlea recently made this gorgeous pleated polka dot skirt with a metal zip too.


It was really easy to make - just three rectangles and a waistband, then a contrast hem.  The waistband and hem are some black cotton poplin that was in my stash.  The zip came from ebay, and I ended up buying three, because inspiration may strike me to make some more.

I used this tutorial to sew the zip, but ended up having to unpick it and move it over a bit, because I stupidly forgot to try the skirt on with the zip pinned in, and it was too big.  Anyway, here's what the first go at the zip looked like.

And here's the second.  I had to move it over by about 1/2", so the top of the zip ended up lower than the waistband.  Naturally I had cut off the excess at the top of the zip, so I sewed on some black bias tape to finish it.  The right side is better than the left, but I wasn't going to unpick it. 

When I was finishing the skirt, I thought that a decorative stitch might look nice on the hem.  I used a zag zag stitch (number 24 on my machine) as I thought it went well with the geometric shapes on the fabric.

I fully intend to wear this skirt all summer, and have already worn it to work and to sewing school.  Yep, that's right; real, live, sewing school!  I found a lady in Belfast who teaches pattern drafting (amongst other things), but I'll save all the details for another post.  Suffice to say, I bored some Belfast sewing chums stupid about it when we met up last week!

Have a great week!