Tag Archive: finished
Sometimes I can be forgetful. In my hurry to get my quilt finished and in my suitcase when we flew back to the UK at the start of June, I neglected to photograph it! It’s going to be at least a year before I get it back because I don’t have another flight planned just […]read more
I wasn’t sure on the dungaree trend when it first came about last year but over the past few months I’ve seen some really grown up and classy looks incorporating them. Combine that with the practicality of all those pockets and the fact that you can crawl, bend and run around like a toddler (which my job seems to require more than I like!) and I was sold. I actually bought McCalls 7547 back in early spring and some gorgeous grey denim to make them in but it’s been too hot for wearing that much close fitting denim in London recently and as usual I wanted to make something I could wear now! I became slightly obsessed with pinning images of summer dungarees over on Pinterest actually including a few pairs of Turias. The common features of all of them were a more slouchy relaxed leg than the slim denim pair I had been envisioning, still some element of fit through the waist to retain some femininity plus a finer softer fabric like a linen or viscose.
I tend to find a pattern I want to work with before I find fabric but on this occasion I had the fabric before the pattern. When The Fabric Store got in touch a couple of months ago to offer me some fabric I tried hard to branch out from my usual choice of their beautiful merino jerseys. I decided it was about time I tried out some of their linen and realised it was the perfect opportunity to find some for my dungarees. They have a not huge but varied range of linen in lots of colours, weights and even prints. This floral embroidered one has particularly caught my eye! It didn’t take me long to decide on this deep teal which is enough like a denim to work as a neutral with lots of the tops in my wardrobe but is still a little bit different. It’s one of their light to mid-weight linens which is great for dress making. It has a bit of structure and weight but after a wash has just the kind of flop and movement I was after.
As to be expected with a linen it does wrinkle quite badly but that works out quite nicely for this kind of relaxed, practical garment. It does fray but apart from that is great to work with and washes and presses beautifully. I kept my iron on a medium heat rather than high as it started to get a bit of a shine when too hot. The only thing I’m slightly unsure about is how sheer it might be in direct sunlight; I’ll need to get someone to check if they can see my pants before I go out and about! I’ve had this worry before with linen because it tends to have quite an open weave and in the past have underlined but I didn’t want to with these as I wanted to retain a lightweight feel without too much body. I had 2m of the linen (which you need for the length of the pieces) but would have had more than enough in the scraps to cut some bias binding or lining for the bib but more on that later.
My t-shirt is a v-neck Sewaholic Renfrew Top made in one of the new marle rib knits also from The Fabric Store. This colour is plaster and is amazing stuff. It has a nice spongy thickness to it and feels soft and dense unlike a lot of the cheaper ribbing fabrics I’ve come across on Goldhawk Road. It feels nice against the skin and has great recovery. I did manage to stretch it out when sewing the sleeve hems but have managed to steam it back into shape. I omitted the cuff and hem bands as with a couple of my previous Renfrews and used a twin needle instead which I think was the cause of the problem. The ribbing comes in three other lovely neutral shades and all of them have been added to the wish-list for my next order!
Back to the dungarees. I cut a size 38 through the bust and waist and graded out to 40 at the hips. I’m really pleased I did as I think the 38 would have been too tight across the bum. I have previously cut a straight 38 with Pauline Alice patterns (Seda Dress and Quart Jacket) but these haven’t involved fitting at the hip so I made sure to double check the finished measurements and decided I could do with the extra room. I’m pretty happy with the fit overall and they are super comfortable. I have found with my Cleo Pinafore Dress that no matter how much I shorten the straps they want to slip off the shoulders and the dress shifts around but these sit really nicely. The length through the body is just right with the straps fastened as they are. One thing to note is that I don’t have all that much excess strap pulled through and I’m fairly petite so if you’re tall you might want to consider lengthening the strap as a precaution.
I’d make a couple of little tweaks to the fit if I made this pattern again. The width of the leg around the thigh is on the verge of being too tight when I lift my leg so I’d add maybe just half and inch in that area. However what I do really like about this pattern is the slimmer fit around the bum and just above it giving you a feminine shape through the back. One thing to note is that the leg is a cropped length so it’s worth measuring before you cut although them hem allowance is pretty deep which gives you a bit to play with. These are hemmed at the intended length but I’m wearing them rolled up twice the depth of the hem.
I love all the little details of this pattern and the way they are enhanced with all that topstitching that I love to do! I think it adds a great professional looking touch to any garment on which it is appropriate. If you are going to do the double top-stitching as suggested I would recommend doing a couple of samples and noting the guide point on your machine for how far away the first and then second line of stitching should be away from the seam. I aligned the seam line with the inner edge of my machine foot for the first pass then lined that row of stitching up with the outer edge of the foot for the second. Nice and easy to follow. I kept mine subtle with a matching standard sew-all thread. I was so keen on keeping it subtle that I actually made a trip out to get some thread once I had the pattern cut out as I realised I didn’t have any quite the right shade and a black or navy would have been too harsh.
Proportionally the shape and size of all the pockets are spot on I think and I liked that there were different placement marks for different size groups as the position of pockets can have such a dramatic effect on how flattering a pattern is. The back pockets are quite small so if I was making a larger size I might consider making them a little bigger. Despite looking great the front pockets are not as roomy as I’d hoped they might be. I can only just get my hands in and I’ve got very small hands. The front bib pocket is better suited to holding my phone.
I omitted one of the side seam zips which it seems from blog posts I’ve read that most people have done. I can get them on and off fairly easily with just one.The pattern calls for regular zips but I chose to go with invisible as I just love them plus my local shop didn’t have the right shade of a regular. If I made proper denim pair with contrast topstitching I’d definitely like to try using an exposed metal zip and in that case would use two to make a feature of them.
I had real trouble with threading on my dungaree clips but had great fun with the hammer setting in the buttons! I ended up figuring out the ideal length of the strap and sewing them in place once the clip was threaded on as they wouldn’t fasten securely on their own. It’s a shame they’re now not adjustable but I don’t need them to be. I used Hemline ones (the brand that come in the pink packets). All the advice I could find online for threading them seemed to involve an extra bar so you could thread the strap through one more time which would have secured it. These just would not stay in place!
It’s a great pattern in many respects but I wasn’t sure about some of the finishing techniques. When you’re going to the effort of using flat felled seams and all that lovely topstitching is seems a shame to finish the edges of the bib by just turning in once and topstitching, leaving a raw edge visible. With the amount this linen frayed that just wasn’t an option for me but I wish I’d known from the start so I could think the finishing through. On this pair I just decided to overlock all the raw edges that were visible as it would match what I had done on the side seams of the legs. At least this looks neat, tidy and less homemade. Pauline does suggest using binding to finish any fraying fabrics and I’d like to look into this next time or alternatively lining both the front and back bib. In this Tessuti post Gabby has added a facing to the waistline which I think is a great idea and would work particularly well with a lined bib.
Because I really had to think through the instructions and keep looking a couple of steps ahead to figure out if that was the way I wanted to finish things I didn’t find myself getting mindlessly lost in the project as I do with some. Plus it was the first time I’ve sewn a pair of dungarees so I had no tried and tested method to fall back on! You definitely need both the written instructions and illustrations to figure your way through this one. They’re good and give you the guidance you need but there’s no extra tips and tricks and you definitely need to use your own sewing know-how to achieve the best results. But I had them made in one very enjoyable day and didn’t get frustrated with any part of the process.
Despite having some qualms about the finishing I’m actually really delighted with how neatly these have turned out. All that topstitching gives a lovely crisp and clean result and the fabric is just what I wanted. They feel really ‘me’. Thanks to all of you who gave me pattern choice on Instagram, I definitely made the right decision. Let’s hope the lovely weather hangs about so I can get lots of wear out of these!
I had some fabric perfect for the skirt in my stash but I wanted to make the dress so I nipped into Lewisham one weekend to find something inexpensive from Maggie’s Fabrics market stall. I happened upon this gorgeous viscose print for just £3/m and could not be happier with how it suits the style. I love how vibrant the red/orange flowers look against the navy. The slinky, slippery drape gives a relaxed vibe to the style and I feel like a more structured fabric would give it a totally different look. I really like the idea of making up a skirt version in a brocade.
That lovely shifty nature did present some challenges when it came to cutting out and keeping those curves nice and even but patience and plenty of stay-stitching kept things stable. There are so many curves and edges cut on the bias in this design that taking a good bit of time over stay-stitching is essential; although yes it is frustrating not to be able to get straight on with the construction! The bodice is lined so I could have used a more stable fabric for this but I didn’t want to ruin the romantic feel of the draped back so opted to self line.
One of my favourite elements of the design is the faced hem which gives a gorgeous neat finish and a bit of weight to the hem. I was concerned that the effect of the scallop at the front would be lost in such a delicate and drapey fabric as my viscose so I opted to use a lightweight fusible interfacing on the facing pictures to add a bit of structure. I’m pleased I did this as I think it hangs nicely and keeps its shape well now. In a crisper fabric you wouldn’t need to do this. I also added the interfacing to one set of the waistband and tie pieces. The ties are quite skinny and I felt they might end up looking a little limp in just the fine viscose. The interfacing adds just the right amount of body.
Your fabric choice combined with how much you choose to stabilise the back edges of the bodice will quite drastically effect how that area fits too. Mine hangs away from the body slightly as I allowed it stretch out slightly (on purpose as I liked the idea of a softly draped back in this fine romantic print). The back edges of the By Hand London samples lay closer to the back and to achieve this you’d need to stabilise this bias edge with stay stitching and possibly the addition of some narrow twill tape/stay tape in the seam allowance.
As with all By Hand London patterns (I’ve sewn most of them at this point!) I opted for cutting the UK10 and found it to have a little more ease than I am used to with their patterns. I wouldn’t size down though as I love the more relaxed feel of this, I think the amount of room is spot on for the wrap style. I was concerned about risk of exposure with the back wrap when bending over or moving about in the wind but it feels very secure. I do usually have to shorten By Hand London patterns a little and usually do this from the hem but was well into making this one before I realised that the shaped hem would make this really tricky and I could have done with a lengthen/shorten line on the pattern piece (this has been added in since I tested it). It actually turned out fine though as I love the length as is!
The only change I’d make to the fit next time is to take a little length out of the shoulder (about an inch) as it feels a little like it wants to slip off down my arm although doesn’t quite. I definitely think it’s the length rather than the width that is the problem and taking a bit of length away would have the added benefit or raising the point where the back wrap crosses as at the moment my bra band tends to peek out just a touch. As well as wanting to slip off the shoulders the dress doesn’t want to stay on a hanger so I would recommend adding little ribbon hanging loops. You could insert these into the shoulder seam of the lining for a nice clean finish. I love this dress so much I might well end up unpicking my shoulders to take a little length out to absolutely perfect it so could add these in then.
I’m not going to talk too much about the instructions as many of the little notes I made while testing have since been tweaked in the final release so my sewing experience is likely to be quite different to yours. I will say that it is a real pleasure to sew as it uses lots of familiar sewing techniques so isn’t too tricky to put together and there are no fastenings to deal with! There’s a bit of hand sewing involved to cleanly finish up the waistband and secure the hole in the side seam for the tie to pass through but nothing too strenuous. If you didn’t want to see topstitching around your hem facing you could slipstitch this in place by hand but equally you could make more of the topstitching and use a contrasting thread or add in more at the waistband.
I added a couple of tricks into the construction which I’ve picked up over the years and tend to do for all my dressmaking projects now. I pressed the lining darts in the opposite direction to those of the shell to reduce bulk at the waistline. This pattern does involve sewing a lot of darts which aren’t my favourite thing to do in a shifty fabric. I would recommend marking them with tailors tacks and marking them at an additional point along the leg rather than just the tip and raw edge so you can ensure that nothing has shifted off grain and your darts are nice and straight. I also under-stitched the neckline as lining peeking out is a real pet hate of mine. This is really easy to do with this neckline if you do it before you sew up the armholes. The By Hand London method of sewing the neckline and armholes then the side seams of both the shell and lining in one fell swoop is fab.
It’s a big statement but this could be my all time favourite By Hand London design! Top three at least! I feel really elegant yet effortless in this dress and whilst the cut is fairly modest it’s quite sexy at the same time with the flash of skin at the back. It would be appropriate for so many occasions made up in different fabrics; weddings, garden parties, work events or just casual summer days. A skirt version is next up in my sewing queue and then I’d like to try another dress in a solid colour of a more structured fabric like a linen!
Whilst the plain grey of my first version is fantastic for working with so many different parts of my wardrobe I wanted something a little more special this time. I’ve had all kinds of ideas for bomber jackets bouncing around my head for months. For a while I was considering some embroidery as those little geometric panels on the shoulder of the second variations would lend themselves so well to it. I thought dense black on black embroidery or metallic on black would be really wearable. I then saw a lady pass me of the street wearing one made of sheer embroidered mesh which just looked so cool. But then I quite liked the idea of one made in a bold and colourful print as real statement outerwear to layer over simple outfits.
In the end the choice was made for me when I came across this amazing three dimensional floral fabric on my first visit to the Cloth House warehouse shop in Camden. I still wanted to be able to wear this jacket endlessly so hit the jackpot when I found this as it had all the unique quality I was after but what is more wearable than a solid black? As much as I love to wear black it does photograph terribly so I’m not sure these pictures are really doing it justice but take a look at the flat close ups for a more accurate idea of this unusual fabric. I’m pretty sure it’s a silk/poly blend and the little flowers are part of the weave of the fabric itself. The outline of each flower is quite a pronounced ridge and the petals are filled with a satin weave which stands out against the rest of the fabric. Despite the texture on the front the back is fairly smooth with a fairly prominent weft which is interesting. I love a tactile, textured fabric in a solid colour and feel like over the last couple of years that using these kind of fabrics has produced the most successful garments in my wardrobe. I’m trying to hone in on fabrics which are interesting because of their drape, weave and texture rather than a crazy print which looks amazing on the bolt (although I love playing around with these as much as the next person!).
I could have made the whole jacket in this fabric but really wanted to try playing around with contrasting textures and managed to find a great option to pair with it right there in the same store on their amazing shelf of £1-3/m bolts! If you are able to visit the Camden store and haven’t yet it’s well worth a trip. It’s not huge but packed with all those top quality fabrics you oo and aah over on Berwick Street but all at discounted prices. The floral fabric I snapped up for £14/m and is definitely the kind I would have been drawn to in Soho but never actually treated myself to at full price. The sleeve fabric is a viscose twill which had the perfect combination of weight and drape I wanted for this style. It needs a kind of relaxed slouch to it I think. I went back and forth over my decision of which fabric to use for the body and which for the sleeves but am pleased with my final decision as I like the contrast pocket welts in the plain viscose. The ribbing I picked up in UK Textiles on Goldhawk Road which is where I bought the ribbing for my last version. I love the combo of all three fabrics together where they meet at the neckline!
The brilliant thing about using different fabrics for the sleeves and body is that it doesn’t need very much yardage. I bought a metre of each and still have enough left to make another jacket in the reverse of this one! In fact using different fabric could make this a great pattern for stash busting all those half metre or so pieces we all end up hoarding because we can’t bear to throw that big a piece out. I cut the size XXS as I did with my last Rigel as I was really happy with the fit on that. My measurements place me more in the XS but I didn’t want the bomber to be too oversized or long. This amount of ease feels very comfortable.
The pattern doesn’t come with a lining and I decided to stick with that despite other bloggers posting some lovely lined versions and advice on how to do it (see Kat’s and Katy & Laney’s posts). I quite liked the idea of the jacket being super lightweight for summer and also just wanted to get on with wearing it as soon as possible! I finished all the interior seams on my overlocker so it looks nice and neat inside anyway. The only thing I don’t like about the pattern being unlined is that you end up seeing the square of interfacing used to reinforce the welt pocket opening. It’s not as obvious in the black version as the grey but it still bugs me a bit. It’s also very difficult to finish the inside edges of the pocket bags and welts neatly on the overlocker so this whole area looks a little scruffy. Ah well…next time I’ll line it!
Speaking of welt pockets, the fact that pretty much the first step is to make them is a little daunting! It’s like starting with the bound buttonholes when making a coat. You feel like you could potentially mess up in a spectacular fashion right at the start. Which I guess is better than getting almost to the end and doing it. These aren’t absolutely perfect as I was a couple of millimetres out getting the openings to exactly match the length of the welts but nothing that a bit of hand stitching couldn’t pull into place and definitely an improvement on my first attempt.
Inserting the zip is straightforward but does require some accuracy to get the top and bottom edges to meet nicely. I recommend basting it in first and rather than attempting to sew past the zip pull stop just short of it with the needle down, lift the foot and slide the pull on past before continuing to sew. I was a bit confused by the recommended length of zip as I was the first time around. The pattern requests a 35cm open ended zip for all sizes but of course the front length differs depending on the size you make. I advise measuring your pattern piece to determine the best length for you. Of course zips of this kind tend to be available in lengths increasing by a couple of inches at a time so getting the perfect length is nigh on impossible. I bought my zip from John Lewis and went with the suggested 35cm/14″ and found it slightly too long but managed to ease it in.
The final tricky part of the assembly is creating a clean corner where the hem ribbing slots into the body of the jacket at the centre front. Ribbing is pretty forgiving though and a good press and topstitch really helps. The neckline ribbing is so easy to do. I like the slightly lower v-shaped neckline on this pattern which makes it stand out slightly from other classic high necked bomber designs. I feel like it’s a little more feminine and flattering on a curvy figure. The cuffs could be a little tighter in order to stay pushed up on my forearms how I like to wear it but I do have quite skinny forearms and wrists! I love the amount of fullness the sleeve has above the cuff.
The only thing I’m slightly disappointed with is how the fabric is wearing. It’s really easy to snag that beautiful floral and after a few weeks of hard wear it’s got some quite bad thread pulls all over it. I knew after a couple of wears that it was more of a fabric for a special occasion piece but I still can’t resist wearing it more! All I can do for now is neaten it up and try to look after it.
If you’re intrigued by the bomber jacket trend I highly recommend this pattern as a first go. Once you’ve done your welt pockets (which you could omit if you like) it’s super straightforward to put together and speedy too. I love a raglan sleeve! If you don’t have an overlocker or don’t want to use one binding the edge of the facing and the visible inside seam allowances in a contrast fabric would be a lovely touch. Writing that has just given me an idea for yet another… a version made of embroidered mesh in a neutral colour with a bright pop of coloured binding peeking through! I’m sure my wardrobe doesn’t need more than two bomber jackets but I wear them so regularly I feel like it would be worth giving one of my other ideas a whirl. I’m still tempted to add a bit of embroidery to this one but I’m not sure it needs it. What do you think?
At the start of the month The Fabric Store got in touch to see if I’d be interested in trying out a selection of their fabrics. Of course I jumped at the chance as I’ve been addicted to this store since I visited their LA branch 18 months ago and was b…read more
Hello…. it’s me…. (read Adele-style) I’ve had some big things going on that I’ll probably talk about when I have found a solution, but it’s put me off sewing a bit. I’ve been designing a few Spoonflower fabrics since I’ve been selling some designs (!) so I want to build up my library, and I’ve […]read more
Today it’s my turn to share with you the outfit I’ve made for the Vogue Cocktail Hour Social Sew-Along in aid of The Eve Appeal! I really enjoyed taking part in their Big Vintage Sew-Along last year and am delighted to be one of the bloggers spreading …read more
I actually bought the fabric for these before the pattern was released. My colleague’s trousers are quite smart looking black ones with a bit of weight which flow beautifully and I had my eye out for a similar fabric. Classic black seemed like a good way to go for this first try of a new shape! I was shopping for work in John Lewis on Oxford Street when I came across their range of stretch suiting. Just the weight I was looking for and beautifully soft with a gorgeous drape provided by the viscose content. It is a polyester/viscose blend which I know might have some of you running for the hills but some modern day polyesters are world’s apart from those nasty crepes and chiffons that melt as soon as they get anywhere near a cool iron. I couldn’t tell that this was a poly to touch or work with it and as these trousers are a particularly breezy style I wasn’t worried about the it getting hot or sticky to wear. I didn’t need the spandex content but it’s nothing too dramatic and it has made the completed trousers exceedingly comfortable with a nice ‘bounce’.
I knew it was ideal on first touch and figured 2x the length of the trousers I wanted plus a little extra would be plenty so bought 1.8m with no deliberation. The Flint envelope actually recommends 2.4m of this width but with a bit of jiggling I managed with what I had. Phew! If you’re using a fabric with a directional print or nap you will need more as I placed some of my pieces upside down to squeeze them on. Interestingly John Lewis’s tag recommended hand wash or dry clean only which I’m assuming is because of the viscose content but I pre-washed it in the machine and have washed them a couple of times since with no trouble. I also risked a medium heat iron rather than the recommended cool as to get a nice flat seam it needs a good steamy press the eliminate that bounce that is so lovely to wear.
Labelled as a stretch suiting I’d call it a stretch poly gaberdine as it’s got that visible twill weave and smooth finish. It comes in a range of neutral colours and I’d very much recommend it for tailoring projects that you want a bit of movement or give in. At £14 it’s a bit more than I’d usually pay for a black basic but I knew it would be perfect and I’d pay a lot more than £25 for a pair of RTW trousers like this.
I cut the size S which is a teeny bit larger than my measurements but I was concerned about them being snug around the hips as proportionally I’ve got a bit of a bum on me! They did come up quite large on the waist so I just moved the button over by 1.5″ which worked out quite well to give me a snug fit. I think this may have something to do with the stretch in the fabric as I haven’t had as much of a problem with the pair I’m currently making but then the waistband is interfaced so it shouldn’t have stretched out. I’m training for a half marathon at the minute and all that running seems to be doing some crazy things to my measurements so that’s made keeping track of fitting a little tricky!
Fit wise they’re fairly easy to manage because of the loose fitting style. I think I could do with a really tiny sway back adjustment as I have a little bit of excess fabric sitting below the waistband but it’s nothing to overly bother me. I did put a lot of consideration into the length as I don’t exactly have the longest legs in the world and was concerned about the cropped length really not working for me. The length of these was going to be key to their success! Before hemming I tried them on with pretty much every pair of shoes in my wardrobe to find the optimum length for all possible occasions and whilst I’d usually only pin up a section of the hem to check it I pinned up both legs so I could properly see how they would look. I ended up removing 1.5″ from the hem and used the recommend 2.5″ hem allowance.
The fastening on these is genius and a detail unlike anything I’ve seen before on RTW or otherwise. The waistband overlaps slightly to one side and opens up into the pocket to give you enough room to get in and out, eliminating the need for a zip or fly. You have the option to use buttons to fasten the waistband or a tie which I opted for as I love this kind of unusual detail. If you’re concerned about the tie not being secure enough fear not, there’s an additional button fastening hidden inside the waistband to keep things safe. This also provides the perfect opportunity to use up those odd beautiful buttons you’ve been hoarding but never quite know what to do with! I think my button is a discarded sample from a show I was working on a couple of years ago; I remember getting it in Cloth House on Berwick Street.
I was going to say that the fastening was my favourite thing about this pattern but actually there’s so much else to love! Just the general cut of the trouser is fab; the width of the leg is spot on and super comfortable yet chic. I really like the release tucks and the way the front hangs because of them and also the deep hem gives a bit of weight which again helps the way they hang and move. The hem was a little tricky to sew as the widening of the leg plus depth of the turn up means you’ve got a much wider edge to fit into a narrower space. I noticed in the sew-along that Megan suggests to fold down the excess fabric near a seam and sew over it which is exactly what I did but I wasn’t personally sure about that finish. Now I’ve decided on my ideal length I might adjust the pattern next time so that the leg pieces start to taper in again from the hem line to match the area that the hem allowance will be turning up into. Another construction aspect I thought might be tricky was topstitching along the bottom edge of the waistband to secure it inside but I’m really pleased with how neat that has turned out.
I bought the PDF of the pattern as I was so impatient to make them and ended up printing way more pages than I needed to because the waistband for versions 1 & 3 isn’t nested and each size prints individually. And I wasn’t even making that version! Entirely my own fault as I forgot that on the first page of Megan’s PDFs she lists exactly which pages you need to print for which version and size to save you wasting your paper. This is a feature I really loved when I made her Dove Blouse so I’m annoyed at myself for forgetting! Something for you to bear in mind if you’re planning on using the PDF.
I couldn’t be happier with this combo of pattern and fabric and can see me wearing them all year round as I’d definitely layer them over tights with ankle boots in the winter. As it’s such a new shape to incorporate into my wardrobe I thought I might have some trouble styling them but my favourite thing about them is how surprisingly versatile they are! I love them styled down with a t-shirt and pumps or trainers like in the majority of these pictures but they are so easy to dress up too. I wore them to the press night of my latest show with my Inari Cropped Tee and a pair or wedges but they also look great and feel super sophisticated with a pair of killer heels. A total triumph of a garment.
The proof of how much I love this pattern is in the fact that my sewing queue is out of control right now but the photo above is already happening! I decided my wardrobe could absolutely benefit from a pair on more of a summer weight so am using this beautiful chambray from Sew Over It to make a pair pretty much exactly like Megan’s sample. And a pair of the shorts in striped linen are on the list too!
I am pattern testing much less nowadays as it can be really time consuming when you do it throughly and to be brutally honest my sewing queue is so long that I’m never short of things that I’d rather be sewing! However there are some things that I just…read more
I am so excited to be writing this post today! Some of you may have already spotted the latest release from Tribe Patterns (the pattern line from the ladies at The Foldline); The Parker Collection. The line is designed by members of the sewing community and as the name gives away, this on has been designed by me! It is the second Tribe Pattern (the first being the Billie Collection designed by Rachel from House of Pinheiro). Rachel and Kate got in touch with me back in the autumn last year to see if I would be interested in working with them and of course I jumped at the chance! Designing my own pattern line has never been an ambition of mine and this remains a total one off but when the opportunity presented itself to work with two incredibly talented ladies offering to bring my design idea to life I’d have been silly to say no. It has been an amazing experience and is such a thrill to see the finished pattern. Rachel and Kate have done a fantastically thorough job and I can’t wait to see what you guys make with it!
There is so much to say about the design I don’t really know where to start. I was keen to come up with a garment that I would be excited to sew and wear and provided a canvas for creativity so everyone could have some fun with making it their own. The bohemian, seventies style has always appealed to me and I’m delighted that it’s so on trend at the moment. I was inspired by both contemporary designs and the lines of some of the late 1960s/early 1970s patterns in my vintage collection. I gathered up all of my favourite elements and had some fun drawing out different combinations. After pinging some ideas back and forth with the Foldline ladies we settled on a combination of dress and top which I adore. The panelled design provides opportunity for mixing prints, colours and textures and the pattern comes with the option for a plain sleeve or additional lantern cuff. Sleeves are huge this season (in some cases literally!) and one of my favourite elements of seventies style is the dramatic swoosh of a wide cuff so Rachel has drafted a bonus fluted cuff pattern piece which you can download for free here!
I wanted the design to provide a little bit of a challenge in the sewing as the projects I can get my teeth stuck into are the ones I enjoy the most. None of the steps should prove too tricky for anyone with a bit of sewing under their belt but the variety of techniques should keep more experienced sewers entertained. It’s not a quick sew as there are quite a few pattern pieces involved but if you can sew a princess seam, an invisible zip and set in a sleeve you can keep it quite straightforward. You can also opt to make the design more complex by adding embroidery to the centre front and back panels or including the lace insertion and trim. The instructions include step by step guidance on how to add lace into the seam between the lantern cuff and sleeve pieces on your machine and I think this may be my favourite thing about the pattern. It’s a feature that came up again and again in my inspiration pictures and I’m so delighted that we were able to include it. I’d love to play around with inserting lace into the seams between skirt and bodice panels and even maybe the waist seam.
You can recreate Rachel’s amazing embroidered version of the top with the embroidery template which is free to download from the Foldline pattern page or get creative and freestyle your own. The centre front and back panels are faced which not only provides a lovely clean finish to the dress but also makes them ideal to embroider as the back of your stitching is completely enclosed and protected. There are also ‘colour me in’ line drawings of both variations available to download which I’m definitely going to be playing with to plan future print mixed and colour blocked versions.
I wanted the design to be versatile and am really happy that I can see it being worn in every season. As I first came up with the idea in the autumn I was imagining it in rich, dark florals but now all I can think about is mixed pastel prints for spring. I’d love one in a fresh white breezy cheesecloth for summer and in winter I’d wear it in a bold solid colour layered with warm tights. Made up in different fabrics the lines of the design I hope will remain somewhat timeless and the dress in particular is something I can see myself making various iterations of for years to come as it is the kind of dress that has remained a staple in my wardrobe since my teens.
The dress I’m wearing here is actually my very first test of the dress (so please excuse the horrible pattern matching around the waist and slightly mismatched seams!). When collecting inspiration for the design at the very start of the process something I was continually drawn to was the mixing of two or more prints in one garment. It can be tricky to do but I started safe with both of these small prints on a black base and love how it has turned out. Both fabrics I bought ages ago from Maggie’s fabric stall in Lewisham who stocks end of roll high street dressmaking fabrics at the bargain price of £1-3/m. Perfect for testing. It’s almost a shame I’ve fallen so in love with the mixture of prints on this dress as they are the particularly nasty type of lightweight poly georgettes that I tend to run away from! The floral is slightly softer with a texture to it but the other is not so nice. I turned a blind eye to the quality and poly content at the time as I thought they would be ideal to test how the print mixing worked but now wish I’d held out for a viscose! However, worn with a cotton slip they’re not unpleasant to wear and as I knew from previous experience that these fabrics would pretty much melt when touched with a hot iron I kept it cool and actually had surprisingly little trouble handling either of them.
I recommend reasonably lightweight fabrics with a nice drape for this design. You want some nice movement in the panels of the skirt and top as well as the sleeves and the cut of the bodice is quite relaxed so doesn’t require a fabric that will provide structure. Viscose challis, crepes, soft linens, cotton lawns and voiles are all great choices as would be light to mid-weight silks if you want a more luxurious feel. As long as you keep in mind the movement of the dress the world is your oyster really! If you are going to do some embroidery you’ll want something fairly tightly woven and not super lightweight for those panels to make your life a bit easier and also support the weight of the floss.
I used some black cotton lace I bought in John Lewis to insert in my cuff seams and also trim the hem. My lace had one straight edge and one scalloped which I made use of on the hem but whether yours has straight of scalloped edges is entirely your preference. The pattern recommends 40mm wide lace as this is the most straightforward way to keep your inserted pieces at an even width following the technique in the instructions (leaving you with about 1cm of visible lace) but if you’re happy to get a little creative you can use whatever width lace you like. Mine was just 2cm as I only wanted a hint of it around the hem and I simply used a very small seam allowance when attaching it to the cuffs. As this dress was a test of the pattern the method I used is actually different to the final instructions and you will end up with just one line of stitching visible just above and below the lace rather the two lines you can see in my photos.
I cut a size 8 which is pretty much spot on my measurements and am really delighted with the fit. I usually like quite a close fit around the waist and this has 4″ of ease but having that room in the bodice provides that that relaxed, bohemian, seventies feel whilst the princess seams still flatter the curves of the body. I like the shape through the back and bust and the shoulders fit neatly. It’s very comfortable and I absolutely have that seventies vibe of feeling free in a glamorous way while wearing it! I did shorten the skirt by about 3″. I’m 5ft3″ so usually end up taking a little off but I wanted more of a mini vibe with these prints. I also shortened the sleeve slightly, which is again a normal alteration for me but I know the instructions for the lace insertion have changed since then so the amount might well be different next time.
I love the height and shape of the neckline; I think it’s really flattering exposing the collar bone. The slit of the dress is slightly longer than the top and you have the option to add in a tie to hold this together or just for added decoration. I’ve used just two narrow pieces of ribbon on this version but will definitely be trying out some tassels on the next. You can either make your own from embroidery floss or if you live in London I’ve spotted a great variety of colours in just the right size in both Fan New Trimmings and Kleins. I had initially envisioned it with short tassels but the long ones on this dress are ace!
Being more creative with my sewing and trying out adding trims, unique details and mixing fabrics was one of my goals for 2017 and creating this design has inspired me to do just that. There are a whole host of ideas I want to play around with; I’ve had to start a Pinterest board to keep track of them all! First up is an embroidered cheesecloth version of the top but I’m interested in trying a version with sheer sleeves and also think it would be delicious in a rich silk/viscose velvet…perhaps lengthened to a maxi for some serious seventies glamour. If I can muster up the patience I might try a hand-sewn fagoted seam rather than the lace insertion technique. I can foresee a summer wardrobe with enough Parkers to wear every day of the week.
I hope the design inspires you to get sewing as much as it does me and that you enjoy making your own Parkers! Thanks so much to Rachel and Kate for the hard work they put into getting the pattern just right and for giving me the opportunity to work with them. It’s a dream I didn’t even know I had come true and I couldn’t be happier with how it’s turned out!
Sigh. I missed the Finish Along link up again because I’ve been busy at work (this is a good thing but it means I’ve been going to bed earlier), have been teaching and trying to get on top of housework and stuff at home. I also decided today after an incident on Friday where I […]read more
Like the Nancy Dress I just posted, this top has become another wardrobe favourite. It came as a bit of a surprise to me as this drop shouldered, loose fit isn’t one I naturally gravitate towards. I had in my head that this shape probably wouldn’t be a…read more
Viscose is one of my favourite fabrics for dressmaking. It can be a little tricky to work with but you can’t beat the drape and comfort and I love the way it feels cool and smooth against the skin. Unfortunately it can be difficult to track down in interesting and wearable prints so whenever I find some I pounce on it! This little gem I picked up from Maggie’s fabric stall in Lewisham which is a fairly reliable source for contemporary prints and fabrics as she stocks end of high street lines. If you live anywhere close by I very much recommend a visit, it’s usually pretty entertaining too! She’s based just outside Rolls and Rems and is usually just around on weekdays and the odd Saturday but check out her Facebook page for updates. I think this particular viscose was £2/m as most of the stall is; a bargain you can’t beat for the quality.
I highly recommend using a viscose for Nancy as you need the luscious drape and light weight to make the most of the swing of the style. Although actually making this up in a fabric with a lot of body could be really interesting and create a very fashion forward look! I adore this style but have found it a little tricky in the past. I have tried on many a similar RTW dress in my time only for them to look frankly quite maternity. I think the key to this pattern’s success where other dresses have failed is down to a number of clever design elements. Firstly the slim fit of the shoulder and sleeves balances the volume under the bust. If you had a raglan or dropped shoulder seam you’d loose all shape of the body and the overall effect would be too tent like.
Secondly the empire line waist seam running across the back means it fits fairly closely across the upper back which is much more flattering than the shape hanging loose from the shoulders. It skims your figure and gives you a little shape.
Finally most of the flared shape is provided by the front side panels which means less volume at the centre front and also a closer fit around the bust as you can see in the photo above. The shape swings out from below the bust not above it as it does with most trapeze dresses. These panels are an interesting challenge to sew, especially in shifty viscose. You can’t see it very well in this print but you have a fairly tight corner to contend with. It is tricky and requires a bit of patience but the instructions and photos make it as straightforward and accurate as possible.
The instructions are as great as I have come to expect throughout in fact; telling you exactly when to stay-stitch, finish seams and how to press. The only thing I did differently was to add in the step of under stitching my neckline binding before turning it under. This is a tip I picked up from Grainline Studio instructions and proves to be a pretty failsafe method for getting a clean edge. Getting even binding in a viscose like this can be difficult as it really stretches on the bias and shifts about so the width distorts along the length. Extra steps like under-stitching can really help.
One aspect I really enjoyed constructing was the centre back opening. I love this slit feature and have never tried this type of fastening before. The construction method gives you a really lovely clean finish that’s enjoyable to sew. If I’m honest now I’ve worn it more than a handful of times I’ve noticed that the hook and eye at the top is giving me a little trouble and keeps popping open when I’ve been wearing a cardigan or jacket on top as there is not enough tension around the neckline to keep it in place. I think I might change it to a button and elastic loop or I do have some scraps of the fabric left so I could get fancy and make a rouleau loop to match!
The circular nature of the hem combined with the malleable viscose meant it dropped all kind of wonky! The side panels in particular drop more than the rest of the dress as that edge is on the bias. I left it hanging for four days before hemming in the end and then made good use of my dress form to level things off. I think a shorter length works best to balance the volume of this style and after some deliberation cut 1″ off the shortest point of my wonky hem and turned it up by 1/4″ then 1/2″. I used the recommended 1″ hem on the cuffs.
I cut between the size 8 and 10 as I always do with Sew Over It patterns and can’t fault the fit, although of course all you really have to worry about with this one is the shoulders and lengths! I decided to use the version with the lower neckline as I thought a bit of exposed skin at the neck wouldn’t hurt to balance out the quantity of fabric in the lower portion. I easily got it out of 2m of my 150cm wide viscose and wasn’t being too careful so probably could have done with less at a push. I already had the hook and eye and thread in my stash so at £4 for a new dress I can’t complain! I see plenty more of these in my future if Maggie keeps me supplying me with viscose!