Tag Archive: finished

Navy Rayon Crepe Lois Dress

The recently released Lois Dress from Tessuti was an instant purchase for me the moment I saw it! I loved the clean lines and easy wearability. Really classy and contemporary. I’m not surprised to have already seen a fair few versions pop up across the…

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Navy Rayon Crepe Lois Dress

The recently released Lois Dress from Tessuti was an instant purchase for me the moment I saw it! I loved the clean lines and easy wearability. Really classy and contemporary. I’m not surprised to have already seen a fair few versions pop up across the…

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A Finish: Banana Candy

This is Banana Candy all done! It’s all raw edge applique, appliqued onto Kona Parchment at the quilting stage. That is pretty much how I roll with applique always, whether turned edge or raw. It makes choosing a quilting design really simple too. I stitched around the very edge with matching colour thread, then echo […]

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A Finish: Banana Candy

This is Banana Candy all done! It’s all raw edge applique, appliqued onto Kona Parchment at the quilting stage. That is pretty much how I roll with applique always, whether turned edge or raw. It makes choosing a quilting design really simple too. I stitched around the very edge with matching colour thread, then echo […]

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A Finish: Bear in the Log Cabin (for Bloggers Quilt Festival)

It’s Blogger’s Quilt Festival time again, and I love how Amy has simplified it. Previously you had to choose a category for a quilt that you entered, and then people would nominate and vote for a People’s Choice, which didn’t always seem like the fairest way of doing it- though I was surprised to be nominated […]

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A Finish: Bear in the Log Cabin (for Bloggers Quilt Festival)

It’s Blogger’s Quilt Festival time again, and I love how Amy has simplified it. Previously you had to choose a category for a quilt that you entered, and then people would nominate and vote for a People’s Choice, which didn’t always seem like the fairest way of doing it- though I was surprised to be nominated […]

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Dotty Viscose Gypsy Swing Top

I had a good old chunk of this lovely monochrome dotty viscose left over from making my Nancy Dress and it’s been eyeing me up from my stash for a while now. I couldn’t bear to get rid of it as it is a great viscose challis, nice and matte with a beaut…

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Dotty Viscose Gypsy Swing Top

I had a good old chunk of this lovely monochrome dotty viscose left over from making my Nancy Dress and it’s been eyeing me up from my stash for a while now. I couldn’t bear to get rid of it as it is a great viscose challis, nice and matte with a beaut…

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Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

When you can sew it’s very tempting to make endless beautiful dresses in gorgeous prints and fabrics. Despite being all for sewing being about the process and the enjoyment you get out of that rather than the end product, over the last couple of years I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my wardrobe and day to day life really don’t need any more pretty dresses. It’s just not what I wear on a regular basis. The old I need more cake but I want to play with frosting dilemma. I do, however, make the most out of ANY excuse to make myself something more extravagant (see for example the dress I made for my stepsister’s wedding). Cue my 30th birthday and just the reason I’d been waiting for to make myself something more frivolous. I’m not having a big glamorous party or anything and was actually working up in Newcastle over my actual birthday so an all out show stopper of a ball gown or cocktail frock wasn’t exactly the ticket. But I could certainly treat myself to a beautiful summer maxi of the sort I haven’t made in a while to celebrate the big three oh. I didn’t have any particular plan for the dress pretty much right up until the moment I bought the fabric and started making it!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

The keen eyed among you may spot that this dress has been rather heavily influenced by this stunner made by Miss Make using the By Hand London Kim bodice. I fell in love with the dress and it’s effortless, bohemian glamour the second I saw it and have had my eyes peeled for a similar yellow print ever since. I believe Devon’s fabric came from Blackbird Fabrics or at least they had the same viscose print stocked for a while. I’d sort of given up on finding anything similar here in the UK when I arrived at the Sewing Weekender at the start of August and spotted Sarah from Like Sew Amazing sporting a gorgeous jumpsuit in a very similar print. In some weird twist of fate I then came across the exact same fabric in my local fabric shop (Lewisham Rolls and Rems) just a few days later! And for less than £5/m! It’s a lovely matte viscose challis which has the perfect movement and weight for this style of dress. They also stock a beautiful vibrant orange which was hard to resist as usually when I find a print I like in a viscose there’s no stopping me. It’s my absolute favourite fabric for dressmaking.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

Now to pick a pattern. I obviously had maxi in my mind after being inspired by Devon’s dress and was thinking that I would draft my own fairly straightforward skirt. I did have a moment of hesitation as I’m not sure I’ve ever had yellow in my wardrobe and wasn’t sure I could pull off a full yellow floor length ensemble but I swathed myself in the viscose and decided this particular shade of egg yolk yellow was surprisingly forgiving on my skin tone. So I dove into my stash to find the ideal bodice pattern. I do own the BHL Kim so could have done a flat out copy of Devon’s but I wasn’t sure it was quite what I wanted. I wanted the snug fit around the waist but perhaps something with a bit more detail going on up top to make the most of the drape of the viscose. I finally hit upon the Sewaholic Lonsdale which I used to make my very first two dresses way back in 2012.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

There’s something quite nice about the fact that I am returning to the first dress pattern I ever used to celebrate this milestone birthday too! I do still have both of my original Lonsdale dresses but must admit they haven’t been worn a lot; not because of the quality of sewing or fit (boy I must have had a lot more patience back then!) but because I never felt very ‘me’ in that a-line shape of skirt, which was probably emphasised by my slightly stiff fabric choice. I’m much the same size as I was back then so stuck with the size 6 which I have always felt was a great match for me in Sewaholic patterns. It does fit well but now that I’ve learnt a bit more about fit and am slightly more particular I would probably take just half an inch off the bodice length if I were to make it again. The Lonsdale is a great pattern for a beginner seamstress as because the bodice ties at the front the fit is very forgiving around the bust.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

I was really lucky that I chose this pattern as one of my first as the instructions are very thorough plus there is an excellent sew-along on the Sewaholic blog so I remember I learnt a huge amount about how to make garments well. I still love the way the bodice is finished being full lined and the only hand sewing involved is slipstitching down the bottom of the waistband. I wouldn’t usually insert the zip through both the fashion fabric and lining as one (I would instead insert it into the fashion fabric then turn under the seam allowance on the lining and hand stitch it to the zip tape for a clean finish) but it works for the style of the dress. I finished that back seam on the overlocker so it was nice and tidy.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

Following the sew-along instructions I added stay-tape along the top edge of the bodice to stop it stretching out and gaping away from the body. This is a really important step with a delicate, shifty fabric such as viscose which will easily stretch out along a curved or bias edge. Under-stitching this top edge is also particularly important as that lining will want to roll out and ruin the nice clean lines of that neckline.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

The two things I did differently to the pattern instructions are actually the same as I did on my third version of this dress which I made in 2013 and completely forgot I had made until I went to look back at my posts on the first two! Firstly I changed the regular dress zip to an invisible as I just prefer the look of them and secondly I omitted the loops and tie of the straps at the back and sewed them down instead. This detail is just a bit fussy for me. The straps were actually the one thing I wasn’t happy with on my third dress as the width of them at the back looked a bit clunky. This time around I kept the tie width the same but folded it in half when I attached it to the back of the bodice to add a bit of detail and create a more delicate look.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

I also secured the straps differently to how I did before as last time I ended up sewing them down on top of the lining as a bit of an afterthought. Because of the design of the dress you need to tie the knot at the front before you can secure them in place so the bodice has to be pretty much finished. To achieve I clean finish when attaching the lining to the bodice around the neckline I stopped sewing and left a gap where I thought the straps should be (I used the notches for the loops which I wasn’t using as a guide). I then did all the under-stitching and stay tape around these gaps. Once the bodice was assembled I then slip the ends of the straps into these slots and stitched them closed. I even put the zip in before I did this so I could wear the bodice properly and get the length spot on.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

The Lonsdale does actually come with pattern pieces to make the skirt a maxi but I still wasn’t sold on that a-line shape, even in a softer fabric and thought it might end up feeling far too wide around the hem. I also was a little bit in love with the leg slit in Devon’s and felt a straighter style would be the way to go. I’m not usually a fan of a gathered skirt as I don’t like too much bulk around the waist but in a viscose as light as this one it works. I ended up making the most straightforward skirt possible. I used the full width of the fabric and cut a piece the length of skirt I wanted plus seam and hem allowance. If you didn’t want to put a slit in the skirt you could simply gather up one end of the piece and attach it to your bodice, using the selvedges for the centre back seam. I wanted a split so I worked out how far I wanted that to come around at the body and cut the piece in two at roughly the point where this would be when the skirt was gathered up. I sewed the two pieces back together just from the waist to the top of the slit then turned and stitched those raw seam allowances like you would a hem. Then gathered and attached to the bodice, voila! Using the full width of the fabric in the skirt was a bit of a gamble but I’m really happy with the amount of fabric and fullness in there because the viscose is so light.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

I had bought 3 metres of the fabric to be on the safe side as I wasn’t at all sure on the design of my dress when I bought it and probably have enough left to make a top or blouse. The Lonsdale bodice does need a surprising amount of fabric because of those ties but if you are turning them into straps like me it needs a lot less! I self lined my bodice as I had plenty of fabric to do so. The viscose was a little shifty to work with as most are but I used plenty of pins and patience. I wash my viscose on a 30 degree machine cycle and use a cool to medium iron. I tend to use a microtex or size 70 universal needle on something of this weight.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Yellow Floral Viscose Lonsdale Maxi Dress

I never would have thought I could love a yellow dress so much. I put it on to take photos this morning and just wanted to swan about in it all day! I’m willing summer to come back with all my might but might have to resort to booking a beach break somewhere just to get some wear out of it!

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Military Inspired Archer Shirt

Today I’ve got a garment to share with you which hasn’t turned out as successfully as I hoped but was still an enjoyable project which I learnt a lot from. I spend less time on Pinterest nowadays but still enjoy a browse from time to time and the board…

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An actual bikini!

So, I ended up waiting for pictures again. And last week I ended up being very busy. In fact, I already know the coming month will be a very busy one. I will still try to keep up the blogging but I don’t expect I will be able to do more than one post a…

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Clean lines and twisting vines

After the bit of fun I showed you in the previous post, I went on with making a proper dress. In fact, you have already seen a bit of it: This is the dress which has the invisible zipper and the facing…Early this year, I bought some fabric in a gorge…

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Cheap frills

As I mentioned before, making a swimsuit I like made me want to try out more swimwear ideas. However, I had used up almost all my swimwear elastic on said swimsuit. I only had two odd little pieces left over. So, I had to order more and wait for it to …

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a bathing suit!

Of course, this is a garment which belongs in a different setting than my house. I opted for taking pictures in front of that bit of white wall in the living room because the other usual angles would just look more out of place. Obviously, it&nbsp…

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The retro wrap Dress

Ok, it took me a long time to finally take pictures of the things I have sewn over the past weeks. For some reason, I didn’t feel like posing for a couple of weeks. At last, I bit the bullet. Yesterday, I did my hair, even applied make-up and made good…

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A Finish: Antique Shop Floor

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 […]

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Cornflower Crepe Holly Trousers

I haven’t had a lot of time for sewing recently, which (aside from being incredibly frustrating!) means I’m running low on finished projects to share with you. However, I have had these beauties finished and photographed but as yet un-posted since last…

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Well suited

A few weeks ago, with the last classes taught and just some meetings left to wrap up the school year, I was looking for another sewing project. And still, I felt a bit tired and didn’t quite feel up to doing everything myself (something which I us…

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Teal Linen Turia Dungarees

If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed my quest last week for the perfect pattern to use for a pair of relaxed summer dungarees. I was torn between a few options which I liked various elements of and you guys threw a few more excellent choices into the mix! One that kept coming up as a favourite were the Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees, although the Wear Lemonade Fiona were a close second and nearly won out purely because of the name! However, I really liked the classic details of the Turias, the shape of the back bib and the width through the leg. I’ve also often had success with her patterns in the past as I’m quite petite and the proportions work quite well for me. Although the samples weren’t quite the look I was after a quick Google threw up some other blogger makes using this pattern which I adored.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees in Teal Linen from The Fabric Store

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees in Teal Linen from The Fabric Store

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees in Teal Linen from The Fabric Store

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees in Teal Linen from The Fabric Store

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!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees in Teal Linen from The Fabric Store

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees in Teal Linen from The Fabric Store

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees in Teal Linen from The Fabric Store

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees in Teal Linen from The Fabric Store

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees in Teal Linen from The Fabric Store

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees in Teal Linen from The Fabric Store

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!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees in Teal Linen from The Fabric Store

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees in Teal Linen from The Fabric Store

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees in Teal Linen from The Fabric Store

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!

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And another one…

As I mentioned yesterday, my first pair of Thai fisherman pants was kind of nice but not really what I had expected. When I was “researching” the look, I mostly liked examples which were a bit wider (at the top of this Pinterest board of mine, you can …

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And another one…

As I mentioned yesterday, my first pair of Thai fisherman pants was kind of nice but not really what I had expected. When I was “researching” the look, I mostly liked examples which were a bit wider (at the top of this Pinterest board of mine, you can …

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A trouser experiment

Thank you for the nice comments on my previous post! Now that someone has brought it up, it would make a lot of sense that the combination of knitted and woven fabric is a reason why not many other people have made things like that dress. But take…

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a super-simple dress

So, things got busy in the past two months. The end of the school year brought extra events in my teaching job, good weather meant more climbing trips and then, there was my ongoing effort to get better at route setting in the climbing hall. …

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Red Merino Aomori Twist Top

The new Sakura collection from Papercut Patterns had me weak at the knees when it was released earlier this month. I was seriously resenting the fact that a very busy month at work was going to give me limited to no sewing time! Knowing that I wasn’t g…

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Red Merino Aomori Twist Top

The new Sakura collection from Papercut Patterns had me weak at the knees when it was released earlier this month. I was seriously resenting the fact that a very busy month at work was going to give me limited to no sewing time! Knowing that I wasn’t g…

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Pattern Testing: Orsola Dress from By Hand London

Despite telling myself that I was going to leave pattern testing to one side for a bit so I could focus on my ever increasing sewing queue I saw the design for the latest release from By Hand London and couldn’t resist getting my hands on it immediately! The Orsola Dress is a chic and wearable sheath dress which features a beautiful wrapped back. This classic cut with interesting and considered details is just the kind of thing I love to wear. The bateau neckline that dips in the back combined with the figure skimming fit is super classy. Both the dress and skirt variations included in the pattern have the option for a straight front hem or a scallop shape detail which I opted for as I love how this echoes the shape created by the wrap at the back.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: By Hand London Orsola Dress in Floral Viscose

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: By Hand London Orsola Dress in Floral Viscose

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: By Hand London Orsola Dress in Floral Viscose

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: By Hand London Orsola Dress in Floral Viscose

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: By Hand London Orsola Dress in Floral Viscose

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!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: By Hand London Orsola Dress in Floral Viscose

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: By Hand London Orsola Dress in Floral Viscose

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: By Hand London Orsola Dress in Floral Viscose

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: By Hand London Orsola Dress in Floral Viscose

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!

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Black Textured Rigel Bomber

Today I’ve got a jacket to share with you which has been worn pretty much non-stop since I finished it! It’s become the perfect lightweight thing to throw on in the mornings over almost any outfit and feels like a piece of clothing to be proud of wearing even when I reach for it thoughtlessly. It is my second version of the Rigel Bomber from Papercut Patterns. I made my first version from a pale grey stable knit a couple of years back and whilst it’s been worn fairly regularly since it has been even more in demand this spring than before. I’ve got bombers on the brain as there are so many delights out and about in London to inspire me this season and I decided more wardrobe could definitely do with another in my favourite staple colour…black.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Textured Rigel Bomber from Papercut Patterns

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Textured Rigel Bomber from Papercut Patterns

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!).

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Textured Rigel Bomber from Papercut Patterns

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!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Textured Rigel Bomber from Papercut Patterns

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Textured Rigel Bomber from Papercut Patterns

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!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Textured Rigel Bomber from Papercut Patterns

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Textured Rigel Bomber from Papercut Patterns

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Textured Rigel Bomber from Papercut Patterns

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Textured Rigel Bomber from Papercut Patterns

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.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Textured Rigel Bomber from Papercut Patterns

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?

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Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress

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…

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A finish: A Horse With No Name

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 […]

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Sportswear in action (once again)

And here are finally the pictures of my new climbing trousers in action! Some day, I should ask a third person to either take pictures or belay, so I can show off my me-made sportswear when lead climbing (or, more likely in Dutch climbing hal…

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