Simple Sew Blogging Network

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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!


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.


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!


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.



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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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).


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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…


Last but not least is the neckline.


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.


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.


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.


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


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!


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.


It should now look something like this.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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 (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.


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!



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.


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.

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 😉


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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