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More Blue Fabric’s Trudy Dress

One of the things that’s great about working from home is that I can wear pretty much anything I want to work (although, I admit I have got a no-pyjamas rule). That said, there are days when I have to actually leave the house and meet people and look like a professional, and that’s where the Trudy dress comes in.  

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The Trudy dress is a relatively easy make, and although based on a simple shift dress, with the addition of some simple features, you’ve suddenly got a classic dress straight out of the swinging 60s.

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I made my version of Trudy with fabric from Abakhan, and used a fab navy blue floral pattern to make the dress more akin to some of my other work wear. I also used a contrast colour – in this case cream – for the collar and cuffs to really big up the 60s aesthetic.

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In terms of the make itself, Trudy was pretty straight forwards; I toiled the bodice, but the only real alteration that I needed was to move the bust darts higher. I chose the middle sleeve length as I knew I wanted some sort of sleeve rather than the cap sleeve option, but find I’m often rolling long sleeves up anyway. I used a smaller hem on the skirt than the pattern called for (I used half an inch) as the length was pretty much perfect when it was unhemmed for me (I’m 5’7”). I also added in some anchoring stitches on the back collar to hold it down as I found that once the interfacing and the collar were combined it was quite stiff and stuck up more than I wanted it to.

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The result is a great dress that has become part of my workwear rotation. It’s smart enough that I can go into meetings confidently but is also similar enough to my everyday clothes choices that I don’t feel like a totally different person; a definite plus as far as I’m concerned!

Rhiannon blogs at http://www.morebluefabric.co.uk/

The Fabric Wrangler’s Keira Skirt

This Kiera Skirt is going to be really useful.  I don’t know about you but I don’t have a huge mid-season wardrobe.  I have plenty of summer/ winter clothes but a very compact Spring Autumn wardrobe.  It’s something I have issues with every year but never get round to organising.  Well, thanks to the Simple sew blogger net work I’m going to grow that part of my wardrobe.
Being given the chance to use some of the lovely chambray from White Tree fabrics I thought of that transitional wardrobe.  I could wear it with Flipflops or boots depending on what the British weather has to throw at me. This chambray is a lovely weight, quite light so it’ll flow but enough body to hold it’s shape.  The Kiera is normally lined but I didn’t feel the fabric needed another layer.  If I feel it’s a bit drafty then I’ll put on a slip.
 
The Kiera skirt is a short affair but I wanted a longer version so when cutting out I drew in the extra length with tailors chalk.
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It’s nice and easy to put the pleats together but I always like to keep the paper pattern close by so that I get them pleating in the same direction.  I pin and then stay stitch in place to hold them down.
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I put a pocket on the side without the zip.  It’s possible to do in the zip seam but I didn’t have a whole bunch of time to play.  Maybe next time.
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I drew up a pattern to make sure I could match up to the sides of the skirt.  I then put the pocket in.  I’ve a tutorial for side/ in-seam pockets on my blog if you’d like a few pointers.
 
You put the waistband on before you put the zip in with this skirt.  I left the waist band open on the inside so that I could make the inside nice and neat after the zip had gone in.  I’d advise a 10” or 25cm zip to give yourself room as I still could have done with a little extra wriggle room to get in even though it’s a full skirt.
I wanted to wear it before the weather changed so I machined the hem.  This is becoming a habit.  It tool a week or two to get the photos due to life happening but it did mean we had a lovely crisp autumn day for it.  Boots at the ready…
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So, there you have it.  A new mid season addition to the wardrobe, well I’ve made a start.  Does anyone else have a problem with their mid season wardrobe?
Keep up to date with all of my latest makes at www.thefabricwrangler.wordpress.com

The Wardrobe Architect’s Ruby Dress

I have loved the Ruby dress pattern by Simple Sew since it was first released, it is such a classic style and so flattering.

I decided to fully line the bodice rather than use the facings, to get a neat finish on the inside.

To do this, I cut the bodice pieces out of the lining fabric as well as the main fabric. I then sewed up essentially two separate bodices, one out of the lining fabric and one out of the main fabric.

To attach the main bodice to the lining, I put one on top of the other, right sides together and sewed around the neckline and arm holes.

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I then notched all around the curves to enable it to sit flat when turned the right way.

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After this point, fold the bodice back so that the right side of the fabric is facing out. Give the seams a good press, rolling the fabric between your fingers at the edges to get a crisp edge.

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To sew the side seams together, I just folded the bodice so that the right sides of the main fabric are against the right sides of the main fabric (front piece against back piece) and the same for the lining. This feels a little strange initially, but it all makes sense!

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I then attached the skirt to the main fabric bodice as in the instructions and inserted the zip as normal.

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I decided to slip stitch the lining to the zip by hand as I wanted to sit down in front of the TV and do it, but you can use the machine for this bit and it is much quicker.

The final step was to attach the lining to the skirt. I pressed under a 1cm seam allowance at the bottom edge of the bodice lining and slip stitched it down to the skirt. This creates a really clean finish because all the seams are concealed within the bodice lining.

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I really love my Ruby dress. I think with the fully lined option it could work well for a winter wedding or Christmas party. The lining enables more fabric options, maybe something like a brocade that you would not necessarily want against your skin. I might try this out, I’ll keep you posted!

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Photos from Simple Sew Blogger Team Photoshoot by Dominic Crolla

Jenny

www.thewardrobearchitect.blogspot.co.uk

A sneak preview of some more from that photoshoot – lots to come…

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HALLOWEEN SPECIAL – Look’s Like I Made It’s Kaftan Top… Spooky Photoshoot!

For my second post as a Simple Sew blogger I decided to have a go at the Kaftan Top. I think the pattern is styled as a kind of loose fitting beach cover up- but seeing as my trips to the beach appear to have been few and far between I wanted to try and make this top a little more wearable for every day use.

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First up, fabric choice was this luscious crochet lace from the fabulous folk at White Tree fabrics. It is a fine crochet with quite an open weave so had the drapey qualities I was looking for for something loose fitting. Seasonally, I also thought it looked a bit Halloweeny, and heads up, I’m one of those girls that likes spooky all year round! So naturally I fell in love straight away.

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After reading fellow Simple Sew Blogger Vine Lines’ tutorial on making her Kaftan Dress, it sounded like I would need to cut the smallest size. The size chart shows finished garment measurements so I took the plunge and traced off and cut out a size 6.

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I decided to cut fabric on single layers as the lace has quite an obvious linear design and I didn’t want it going wonky. I cut one half- flip it over then cut the second half, matching up the lace design. The Pattern packet says you’ll need 3.01m fabric for the top in size 6. You definitely won’t! I think I used about a meter and a half. The top is made up of four bits- front, back, front skirt and back skirt, with the top front being cut in two pieces with a centre front seam.

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I used rotary cutter to cut the pieces out. Be careful. They are sharp.

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The neckline of the top is meant to be finished with bias binding. I thought it would be a nightmare to try and bind with lace fabric so I cut a strip of really lightweight black jersey as I didn’t want anything too heavy or anything too eye-catching to take away from the pattern in the lace. Once I’d got the neckline shape by attaching front to back at shoulder seams I thought black binding would look too heavy right the way around the neckline. Instead I opted to turn under about 1cm around the neck.

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Next steps are pretty simple- Sew the centre front seam making sure the V of the neck lines up really precisely. My handy tip for sewing lace- I took 1 layer of toilet tissue and stitched all the seams with this underneath. This gives your stitching line something to lock to when you go over holy bits of lace. Then when you’re done you can just tear it off! Despite my aversion to little bits of tissue (aghhhh, weird phobia number one), I sucked it up. Much better than getting all your threads knotted I think!

Side seams next, which I overlocked (no need for tearing tissue here thankfully), then you have to attach front skirt to back skirt at side seams, then sew together the whole lot at the waist.

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To make the channel for the drawstring you just have to stitch a line 3cm from the wasitline seam you just put in, then thread your drawstring through! Oh before this you will probably want to make some holes either with an eyelet putter-inner or the buttonhole function on your machine. I wasn’t being lazy- but I was a bit nervous to do either with such delicate fabric so errr, I just poked my drawstring through holes in the lace. But don’t tell anyone! For the drawstring I used my piece of bias binding that I didn’t turn into a neckline! So it wasn’t a waste of time!

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Excited, I tried on. The neckline was really wide and there was too much fabric in the sides! Then as I mentioned when I made my Zohra, I remembered that billowy sleeves seem to suit other people much better then they suit me! To save it I knew the number one thing I needed to do was take some out of the side seams. Sadly this meant I would have to unpick the drawstring channel. I managed to avoid having to unpick any overlocking. I took out about 5cm in total from each side. This time I tried on BEFORE committing my waist seam and it looked much better. The neckline is still very gapey, but I get that’s kind of a cute feature on a beach cover-up. I had to remind myself this pattern wasn’t necessarily designed for spookily lurking round stone circles mid-autumn! If I wear the kaftan a little off the shoulder the drawstring sits quite nicely below my boobs and a little lower on my back.

Happier with the fit, I topstiched where the channel meets the top which makes for a super lovely professional looking finish.

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I faffed about with the idea of making the sleeves a little narrower from the over-arm seam, but it didn’t quite seem worth it. I took off 10cm from the bottom so it’s more of a top than a tunic. I did a really simple hem on both the bottom and the sleeves. Then it was about done!

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The pattern is really easy to follow. I would advise anyone making it to cut a couple of sizes smaller than their actual size- I’m guessing I ended up with a size 4 after taking so much out!! I terms of practicality, I’m not too sure when I’m going to get chance to wear it seeing as it doesn’t look like anyone’s going to be taking me on a spooky beach holiday anytime soon! I reckon I’ll get a bit of gig wear out of it though. If I make another I think I’d quite like to add some embellishments around the neckline and maybe use some fancy topstitching thread.

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x

Currently listening to: Halloween Head, Ryan Adams

Sew Positivity’s Gwen Sew-A-Long : Top Tutorial

Simple sew Gwen Trousers and top pattern x white tree fabrics x sew positivity

I won’t lie, I am a major snuggle bunny! If I could wear pajamas 24/7 and still manage to pull off being professional, I would. When I look at my handmade wardrobe I see lots of lovely linen skirts, viscose dresses and the occasional adventure of me tackling tulle but there is a serious lack of lounge wear! What the pug?

When I was offered the chance of choosing a pattern from Simple Sews extensive range I’ll admit my eye’s went directly to the Bardot dress, of which you can find a beautifully made up version by fellow simple sew blogger Thumblenina here.  Of course we all need just one more beautiful dress to add to our wardrobes, but this doesn’t address my need for comfort and the ability to answer the door to my fabric delivering postie without her raising an eyebrow as to why I am wearing adventure time PJ’s at 2pm.

The Gwen Pattern is described as being a relaxed top and harem pant combo, and the pattern line drawings show a stylish lady sporting heels with her waist peeking out between a cropped batwing top and shirred trouser waistband.

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The front cover and description may not automatically make you envision pj’s that don’t dob you in for not dressing up on your days off, but I could see the potential to make subtle changes to the pattern and a clever choice of fabric can make or break a garment.

Fabric. AHHH YEAAAHHH. The Gwen top and bottom both call for stretch fabrics (although I could see a lovely ethnically inspired pair of woven viscose

Gwen bottoms sneaking into my summer wardrobe at some point) but I think we can agree that jersey fabric can be a minefield. White tree fabrics to the rescue! They stock a wide range of different fibre and weight jerseys on their website.  If you need any hand holding over pattern and fabric pairing don’t hesitate to contact them.

I felt the top needed a fluid fabric to make the most of the sleeves and the bottoms called for a more structured weave with good recovery and drape. I chose a white 94% viscose  6% spandex jersey for the top and Art gallery 95% Premium Cotton and 5% Spandex Knit for the bottoms. Both of these fabrics have the perfect qualities for day to nightwear and both have washed and worn very well. (Seriously, I have lived in my Gwen set since sewing them)

There are a few things that are really important to me when I sew a pattern up, and one of those is wearability. Like I have mentioned before it is all very good sewing up something lovely, but if you end up not wearing it (or worse still) reaching for an RTW over your beautiful creations, it’s time to reevaluate! My signature style does not include having my midriff on show to anyone other than my most intimate friends, such as my pug Waldo!

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I decided to lengthen 9cms from the bottom of the pattern to give me a little more coverage and let me resume my cake eating without too much concern. Because the Gwen is a very simple boxy top shape, extending it was very simple and you need no pattern drafting knowledge to achieve it. Just be sure to make the same adaptations to the front and the back pattern pieces.

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The first thing you are going to need to do is lay your pattern out on the fabric according to the lay plan in the pattern instructions and cut your fabric out. If you are working with a tricky, slippery fabric I suggest using all the pins and some trusty pattern weights to help lock that fabric down. I use a pair of super sharp scissors for cutting, but I know that many people swear by rotary cutters for jersey. I’m a scissor sister, but don’t let me dictate your rotary party.

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The Gwen has no pattern markings on it and as a result, using white fabric without an obvious right/wrong side can be an issue. In cases like this I like to take my trusty pastel pencil (a trick I picked up from the beautiful Portia Lawrie) and mark the right side WITHIN the seam allowance on both the front and back pattern pieces. I find these pencils wash away easily but you can never be too careful.

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Now with right sides together, (see why I made those marks) pin your shoulder seams together and get ready to sew them up.

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I’m using an overlocker to make my seam, but the seam allowance on the pattern is 1.5cms. To help me get the right seam allowance on my overlocker I like to add a little bit of washi tape to highlight where I am trimming off too. I use my trusty sewing gauge to check that my left needle is hitting that 1.5cm mark. I also do a test run with cut outs from the make. I’m a double protection kinda gal.

If you are using a sewing machine you need to be using your single ballpoint needle and walking foot. I suggest staying away from zig zag stitches on seams if you can and use the triple stitch or lightening bolt stitch (refer to your manual to see if you machine has these stitches) as these stitches give a more professional looking finish.

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Here we go. Sew the shoulder seams removing the pins as you go. If you are using a sewing machine, be sure to press the seam open and then finish them using the overlocker or zig zag stitch at this point. I like to leave a good few inches of thread at the start and end of each of my seams (I’ll explain why in a bit).

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So far, we should have something that looks as awesome as this! So the instructions suggest finishing the neckline next, but I am a lazy seamstress. As I have my overlocker set up I want to get as much done of my top before swapping over machines. I don’t have unlimited table space. Obviously be careful NOT to stretch your neckline out, and if you have a very delicate knit, just move down the tutorial to where I finish off the neckline. Otherwise, Arm holes!

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Depending on how you want to hem your armholes depends on how you would finish the raw edge. I’ve decided to go with an overlocker-created rolled hem. You could use bias binding, you could overlock the edges and then use an invisible stitch, or you could leave them raw. If you are using bias then apply it before sewing up the side seam. See below neckline tutorial for bias binding finish.

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To sew up the side seams, place the fabric right sides together and align the seams so that they match. Pin from A to B as shown above and either overlock or triple stitch/lightning bolt using a 1.5cm seam allowance.

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Repeat on both sides of your side seams and you should end up with a seam that looks like this. Give it a good press.  Now you can finish your armholes how you want. If you are roll hemming on an overlocker I suggest having a play on scraps before finishing your garment. Now we are going to turn under the hem.

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Finish the hem. If you are not using an over locker go ahead and zig zag or over lock stitch on your regular machine. As you can see I have moved my seam allowance tape, as you don’t want to remove much of your fabric as you surge. I lined mine up with the edge of my plastic guide. We can now put aside the overlocker and set up our regular machine.

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Now this is where I like to use a double needle to get a lovely professional finish. Here is my machine, set up with her double blue top needle and threaded with her two spools of thread. If you have never used a double needle before have a good test run on scrap fabric before having a go on the garment.

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My machine has two thread holders as you can see above. This helps to keep the thread separate and stop them having a knot making party. Not the kind of party I want to be invited to.

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Because you will stop stitching on the RIGHT side of your fabric, we need to make sure we catch the turned up hem firmly in the stitching. If you sew too far over, it wont catch it at all. Using a double needle at this point gives us a few advantages; it creates a bit of stretch for pulling the garment on and off, it looks pretty, but it also gives you a margin of error to catch the hem firmly. If you have a very firm jersey, it also alleviates the need to finish the hem off before stitching. Using a sewing gauge, measure your seam allowance.

As we have cut off some of the original 2cms whilst serging it, I have taken that into account.

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Now press and pin your seam allowance up, making sure you can access the needles for removal and that the seam is on the inside of the finished garment.

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Turn your garment so the right side is showing.  Ideally, you want your left twin needle to be in the middle of where the hem is turned under. You can clearly see this in the picture above.

Starting at a seam, place your needles into the ditch of the seam and then secure your stitches with a backstitch before sewing all around. Finish your seam with another backstitch.

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Give your hem a good press and admire the professional finish. Yummy. Maybe have a cup of tea. I had at least 3 by now…

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Last but not least is the neckline.

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Grab your jersey bias binding, then put the RIGHT side of bias to the RIGHT side of garment. Start pinning from the shoulder seam along the neckline, stretching the bias (NOT THE NECKLINE) very gently and leaving at least 1 inch of bias free to help you join it smoothly at either end.

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This is what you should have by the end of all that pinning. I like to make sure my shoulder seams are directed towards the back of the garment at this point.

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Remember those threads I mentioned earlier? I find them useful to anchor the seam direction as it flows through the machine because if the seam needs to be facing away from you, it naturally wants to flip over when you are sewing it. This little trick can help you get the seams facing the right way every time.

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Now you will have those little ends to deal with. Roll your sleeves up and get ready to bully them into submission.

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You need to align the two pieces with the shoulder seam and pin them where they would meet once sewn down. I suggest making this a little tighter so you don’t end up with any bumps or left over naughty fabric. Remember you can stretch the bias BUT NOT THE NECKLINE!

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Moving the garment fabric out of the way, put a line of baste stitches through your bias. I say baste because you want to check it will sit okay before committing yourself to triple stitching.

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It should now look something like this.

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Now you want to press open the seam and pin your bias to your neckline, as you usually would ready for sewing. You may want to trim those open seam ends if they are bigger than shown.

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Once you’ve sewn it using triple stitch, it should look something like this.

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Grab your iron and pins and press the bias up away from the neckline, as shown, before turning the bias to the INSIDE of your neckline.

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Pin the turned in bias binding as you go and give it a good final press to make sure you are happy you can see any of the bias rolling outwards.

Return to your machine set up with the twin needle and sew in the exact same way you finished the hem, making sure you have measured where your needle needs to sit to catch the bias binding.

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Now give your neckline and garment a final press, cause we are finished!


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I had to give you some batwing bedroom action. The fabric choice worked perfectly as a sable to work with knit, but remained fluid enough to create that 1940s boudoir feel.

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I hope you will join me next month for the Gwen trouser sewalong, where we will be having adventures with shirring. It’s so very addictive.

Elle blogs at www.sewpositivity.com (coming very soon!!)

Crafty Clyde’s Duo Of Skirts

After much delay on the sewing front – it was a pleasure to get my sewjo back again with this fantastic pattern by Simple Sew.

It quite literally is what it says on the tin – it is simple to sew, therefore a perfect beginners project.

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With this pattern you get a choice of two pencil skirts – the first is a more ‘relaxed’ fit tie waist version which the lovely Eleanor of Nel Nan and Nora made up a little while ago in floral print. The second is a typical ‘wiggle’ version which I have used here!

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This little pattern is a dream to whip up in an afternoon! Upon gauging my size according to the chart I cut a 16 (just for reference , I am a UK 12 in RTW so this shows you how sewing sizes can vary – pick for your measurements not your ego!)

If you are between sizes, you can just grade from waist to hip – in this case as my hip is the larger measurement I used that size, knowing that as this skirt just has 2 side seams – it was so easy to adjust to fit in the sewing stages. Once you’ve whizzed up the skirt pieces – try it on and pin to fit! In the end I shaved about an inch each side from the waist, 1/2 inch each side from the hips and 1/4 inch down each side to the hem. When you’ve got it all snug and fitted, then move onto the waistband.

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The fabric is a wonderful linen-look cotton from Minerva Crafts  – it is medium/heavy weight and  was a bit worried about how stiff it would be but it turned out to be ideal for a pencil skirt as the thickness creates the shape and holds well, hiding lumps and bumps in the process! And yes… those are embroidered ducks. Little individual embroidered ducks.

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Inadvertent duck matching at the back vent/walking slit!

The combination of this pattern and the fabric hit the nail on the head with my ever elusive ideal style of ‘quirky chic’ (quacky chic in this case 😉

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7This skirt is unlined but I’ve worn a vented waist slip underneath it from good ol’ M&S that stops clothes sticking to tights. Nan’s know what they’re doing.

And should their be judgement on my choice as an adult to wear tiny rubber ducks…do we care?…. Do we duck.

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Feel free to comment and come and say hello on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin too 🙂 xx

Sewing Adventures In The Attic’s Zoe Top/Dress – How to add a central panel

How to Add a Central Panel to Zoe Top and Dress

I thought I would be fun to share with you how I made my Zoe top special by adding a central panel in the centre front seam. You can use this to add a panel in your top,  dress in the back or front. It all depends on what you fancy.

I got my pattern from the first issue of Sew Now magazine  that was launched in October 2016. I you can no longer purchase the magazine you can buy the pattern from Simple Sew PatternsThe Zoe dress and top.  I used fabric I already had in my stash (navy linen and yellow cotton), which I purchased from Abakhan.

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I wanted for mine to add a bit of court into my centre from seam.  To make this top I used the pattern and  about 1m of main fabric and some scrap fabric for the sleeve cuffs, central  panel and facings. (You don’t need to do the same, it was just a personal preference for me). Basically you need enough scrap fabric to make the central panel. I suggest you use a similar weight fabric for your panel as your main fabric.

To make the panel you will need tools as in the picture:

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STEP1: Start by measuring your centre front seam. Mine was about 21” (53.5cm). This is because I decided to lengthen the top by 2” (5cm).

zoe3-measure-centre-front-seamSTEP2: Decide how wide you want to make your central panel.  Remember you need to include your seam allowances on each side which are 1.5cm. To that I added 0.5 cm so my piece will be 4cm wide and 53.5 cm long.  

The next steps you can do directly on your scrap fabric or you can make yourself a paper pattern. When working on the scrap fabric also remember to work on the straight of grain.

STEP3: Draw a rectangle with your measurements. For me this was 4cm x 53.5 cm. Cut that in paper or draw it on your fabric.

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STEP4: Pin your paper pattern on the fabric and  cut your fabric piece.

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Now you are ready to start making your top/dress.

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STEP5:  Before pin the band to the centre once of the front pieces, right sides together, mark the centre of the piece by folding the stripe of fabric lengthwise. Stitch it in place, using a 1cm seam allowance.

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STEP6: Pin the other side and repeat.

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STEP7: Press seams toward the side seams.

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I prefer to finish my seams once they are sewn up. So if you want to finish the raw edges now is the time. You  can use an overlocker, zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine. Or just leave them as they are.

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STEP8: Mark on your seam allowance of your main fabric (1.5cm) a line of 5cm. This will be the line you will stitch through both layers. Basically you are making a pleat on the centre front. Just try to make sure the fabric of the scrap fabric is out the way, so you do not catch it in the seam.  

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Match the mark you made on the inserted piece with the centre of the seam you just made, this will created a little pleat.

STEP9:  Press the pleat in place . To make it a bit more crisp, I prefer to add some topstitching. However you do not need to do this if you do not want to.

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If you fancy using see through fabric, I suggest you add a couple of stitches to keep the newly inserted fabric in place in your bust area so you do not show too much skin.

zoe15-front-panel-detailNow that you finished the front panel you can continue with the rest of the construction as per your instructions.

Hope you found this helpful and are inspired to further customise your Zoe Dress and Tops. And, don’t forget  to share your Zoe tops and dresses with us on Twitter : @ssewpaterns FaceBook: Simple Sew Patterns @simplesewpatterns Instagram: @simplesewpatterns. We love seeing your versions of our patterns.

Happy Sewing!

Simona

Sewing Adventures in the Attick

sewingadventuresintheattick.wordpress.com

Nel Nan and Nora’s Tie Waisted Skirt – Tutorial

Duo of Skirts: Tie-waisted skirt

By Eleanor Thomson (https://nelnanandnora.wordpress.com)

This pack contains two pretty skirt patterns: a relaxed tie-waisted option, as seen here, and a more fitted Wiggle Skirt (with tutorial by Gabby of Gabberdashery)

The fabric that I have used here for the tie-waisted version is a red and grey floral cotton print, kindly provided by WhiteTree Fabrics. The skirt can be made with just 1m of 150cm wide fabric (or 1.5m of 115cm wide). This fabric is works well for the waist tie but makes for a very lightweight skirt. It is good to sew with as it keeps its shape well when pressed and slips very little. When I have some more time, I’ll write up a pattern hack for making the skirt with a lining, which is less scary than it sounds!

This skirt is satisfyingly quick to make and I expect that I will make a few more from both patterns, in heavier weight fabrics, to see me through this autumn and winter and smarten up my wardrobe a little. I started cutting it out one afternoon, began sewing that evening (rather slowly, so that I could take photos for you) and finished it the next morning.

http://www.simplesewpatterns.com/index.php/size-chart.html

Preparation

Wash, dry and press your fabric. Cut out the pattern pieces in your size, or trace them onto paper if you prefer to keep the original intact. Here, I have cut a size 10. You might find it helpful to iron the paper pattern pieces too, with a dry iron on a low heat, to reduce the creases and help them sit flat on your fabric. For the skirt front, take your time to identify the cutting lines for the top edge, to ensure that you will be able to pleat as easily as possible. Mark the notches with a small snip into the fabric edge, chalk or a suitable fabric marker (air- or water-soluble).

a-paper-pattern-pieces

Lay the fabric out on the largest flat surface available to you. I am fortunate to have an island in the kitchen which is perfect for this, but would otherwise use a clean floor or the dining table.

Pin the paper pattern pieces in place (or use weights if you prefer). The main skirt piece is placed on the fold, whereas the waistband and ties are cut on a single layer of fabric. I cut the skirt first and then opened out the remaining fabric, cutting the waistband and one tie, then the second tie.

b-cut-skirt

c-cut-waistband-and-tie

d-cut-second-tie

 

Lay out the interfacing (I used Vlieseline/Vilene F220), pin and cut out the waistband pattern piece. You can keep the fabric piece pinned to the paper while doing this, so that all the pieces stay together.

e-cut-waistband-interfacing

On the skirt front, finish the three long edges with a zigzag or overlock stitch (I use a three thread overlock stitch). It is generally easier to do this on a flat piece of fabric than on a part-sewn garment, I find.

From here, we will follow the numbered steps in the printed instructions, adding further information and images where it might be helpful.

  1. Pin the skirt pleats in place, following the arrows and notches. Take your time with this, keeping them as neat as possible (accurate cutting pays off here) and then stitch along the waistline, about 1cm from the edge, using a long stitch. This will help keep the pleats in place and also acts as staystitching, reducing the chance of the waistline stretching out of shape.

1a-fold-pleats

1b-fold-pleats

1c-pin-pleats

1d-pleats-pinned

1e-pleats-pinned2.Iron the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric waistband, following the interfacing instructions.

Finish one long edge of the waistband with a narrow zigzag or overlock stitch, then turn up the same edge by 0.5cm to the wrong side and press in place.

2-finish-and-turn-lower-waistband-edge3.Pin the unfinished edge of the waistband to upper edge of the skirt, right sides together. Stitch in place; press the seam open and then upwards.

3-pin-waistband-and-skirt-rst

3-stitch-waistband-to-skirt4. Fold each waist tie in half lengthways and pin along the long open edge and the wider end, leaving the short end open for turning through. Stitch the seam, then snip the corners to enable neater turning. Turn right side out and press the seams; stitch across the open end for neatness (along or within the 1.5cm seam allowance).

 4a-pin-waist-ties

4b-clip-waist-tie-corners

    5.Pin and stitch the left waist tie to the lower half of the waistband and press flat.

6. Pin the left zip tape in place (over the waist tie), right sides together with the skirt centre back edge. The top of the zip tape should lie just above the waistband fold line (midpoint). Hand tack (baste) the zip in place, remove the pins and using a zip foot, machine stitch and remove the tacking stitches.

Repeat steps 5 & 6 for the right waist tie and zip tape. Press flat.

5-6-pin-left-zip-tape-and-waist-tie

6-hand-tack-left-zip-and-waist-tie7. Turn the skirt inside out and pin the lower centre back seam from the base of the zip to the point at which you wish the split to begin. This is not marked on the pattern piece and is up to you. I chose to have a split 16cm from the lower edge, so placed two pins at this point to mark the end of the seam.

Still using the zip foot (though you may need to switch sides), stitch from the base of the zip to the start of the split, using the reverse stitch several times to reinforce this point. Press the seam and split open.

7-measure-and-mark-split

7-sew-from-zip-to-split8. Top stitch from the lower edge of the split, pivot approximately 10mm above the split point, stitch across and then back down the other side to the lower edge.

Change back to the standard presser foot on your sewing machine.

Turn up the hem by 0.5cm or the desired amount (I used the overlock stitch as a guide here for easier turning), press and stitch in place.

(NB for a neater finish you could slip stitch the hem and split, but for speed and durability I have machine stitched here.)

8-stitch-split9. Flip the waistband back over the zip, so that it lies right sides together with the skirt; pin and stitch in place, while keeping the waist ties free. (I used the zip foot as I found it easier.) 

9-stitch-waistband-ends

9-fold-and-pin-waist-band-over-seam10. Turn the waistband right sides out; pin and stitch the waistband in place from the outside, through the waist seam. Take your time  over this, with your machine running at a slow speed to give you control over your sewing, enabling the stitches to be hidden as well as possible in the little valley that the seam creates.


10a-waistband-turned-right-sides-out

10b-stitch-waistband-through-seam

After a final press of all the seams and hems, your skirt is finished and ready to wear.

 

Velosewer’s Keyhole Blouse

Melissa of Fehr Trade sent me a care package that included Love Sewing magazine. The issue I received had this Keyhole Blouse pattern so here’s my review using fabric provided by White Tree Fabrics UK.

The keyhole design feature of this blouse is very Danyrs (Game of Thrones) with a bit more coverage without the dragons and more contemporary. I know. I watch too much TV. Of course I chose a metallic pleat plain fabric for this project. 

The 3 sleeve lengths makes this pattern adaptable to any season and look soft enough to wear for any occasion. I chose to make the 3/4 sleeves.

keyhole-finish-front

So…I found some info about sewing prepleated fabric reference on a Threads forum. Hence I chose to use fold over elastic in a similar for the neckline as an easy finish. I didn’t want to distort the fabric as I sewed it. 

When I tested this fabric on the overlocker, the needle broke so I decided to french seam this fabric.

keyhole-fabric-testing

I used a microtex needle size 60 for this fabric and it sewed really well. 


The pattern

I chose View B because the fabric is pre-crinkled and for my height, that provides plenty of detailing. View B is also the quickest version to make so if you’re time-poor, choose view B.


Notions – matching thread is all you need #simple.


Adjustments

I checked the measurements on the pattern and mocked up a 10-12-12 shape width and took 3cm from the length. 

keyhole-front-adjustment

I folded this length out at the hips so the hem remained curved.

keyhole-back-adjustment

I moved the shoulders forward by 2cm and that was all the adjustments I made #simple. 


Construction – this blouse is fast to sew.

  1. Snip the seam allowance of the keyhole neckline, almost to the fold line marking, but stop 3mm short. Fold the edges of the keyhole under twice and sew. Press and top-stitch it in place. keyhole-wip

At this point, I did a row of stay stitching along the neckline but I used a long stitch in case I needed to slightly gather the crinkles back into place.keyhole-neckline-v

  1. On the back bodice neckline, fold the pleat marking inwards to meet the centre back, sew and press into place.
  2. Stitch across the top of the pleat to secure it.

keyhole-finish-backAgain I sewed a row of stay stitching for the same reason. Remember, the neckline seam allowance is 1cm.

  1. With right sides together, stitch front and back bodices at the shoulder seams. 

I used a french seam finish so you sew the wrong sides together first 0.5cm; trim; iron seams; then sew the right sides together.keyhole-neckline-foe

  1. At this point I decided to sew on fold over elastic that matched the fabric colour on the neckline. Why? I felt this fabric needed a stable neckline finish that didn’t make the neckline bag over time. I also find it’s easier to sew a neckline when the fabrics lay flat so I tend to do this before sewing on the sleeves.

I sewed the fold over elastic to the wrong side first and then sewed it to the right side.keyhole-necking-finish

  1. On the sleeve, sew a line of gathering stitches at the sleeve head. The sleeve seam allowances are 1cm.keyhole-sleeve-hem-wip

Sew the sleeve hem using 1.5cm hem allowance.keyhole-sleeve-hems

  1. Pin sleeve to armhole curve, right sides together, matching the notches for the front and back sleeve. When you get to the sleeve head, make sure the gathering ease is below the sleeve head but above the notches. That’s where you’ll need the sleeve ease.keyhole-finish-side
  2. Stitch the blouse side seams together. I used a french seam finish so you sew the wrong sides together first 0.5cm; trim; iron seams; then sew the right sides together.keyhole-french-seam-wip
  3. Use a fine hemming tape to help set up the hem for this fabric. keyhole-hem-tape

Again, the hem tape held seal the first turn of hem without loosing the pleating. So the second hem turn kept the fabric crinkles in place.keyhole-hem-pinning

Voila! A fast blouse to make and it’s very wearable.

keyhole-front4front view

 

Wearability

This loose style top is very wearable and the fabric gives it day or night wearing options.

keyhole-backview2back view

I’ve worn this blouse a few times on the weekend and it feels lovely and look RTW. Having said that this fabric washes easily and the micropleats remain strongly in place.

This is going to be an easy blouse to make again and wear a lot.

keyhole-front5

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