Category Archives: Sewing

Cord bootcut Gingers

Hello, hope you are having a good day! So it is taking me a bit longer than I’d hoped to catch up on blogging my makes from the last few months, but next up are some trousers that I’d had in mind for quite a while – the Closet Case Patterns Ginger jeans in needlecord…

Cord bootcut ginger jeans

After the success of my first pair of Gingers I was keen to make another pair in a nicer fabric and to try a different leg cut. I’d brought this stretch needlecord from Minerva Crafts in olive green a while back, but always with the intention of making this pair of trousers. It is lovely and soft and I really like the colour for a versatile pair of trousers (although of course it is difficult to get a dark colour to photograph well!). Working with cord does need a bit of extra consideration – I ensured all pieces were cut with the pile running in the same direction and used a towel when pressing to avoid flattening the cord.

Cord bootcut ginger jeans

I wear bootcut jeans a lot as I find them both comfortable and flattering and thought I’d get more wear out of these with such a leg style. To adapt the pattern, I followed the instructions in the Closet Case Patterns jeans ebook for modifying your pattern to flares, but didn’t flare out so much at the hem.

Prior to that modification I did make a few adjustments to the pattern to get a better fit from my first pair – lengthened the legs 3cm at the knee, added 1cm to hip side seams and I also moved the inseam backwards by 1cm as I felt it was sitting too far forward on my first pair.

cord bootcut ginger jeans

I also made quite a few adjustments while sewing. Since the cord was stretchier than the denim used in my first pair and I was making a significant change to the leg shape, I baste fitted the legs twice (first to check the inseam, then again before sewing up the side seams to check overall fit). I took the jeans in at the knee as I felt the style looked better with a more fitted thigh.

cord bootcut ginger jeans

cord bootcut ginger jeans

For top stitching I used 2 strands of regular thread in a matching shade and think this looks pretty good on these trousers. I flat felled all the seams that I could, takes longer but is totally worth it for the neat and strong finish it produces!

The only “mistake” with these jeans is the waistband – as with my first pair I didn’t cut this out until checking the fit and sewing up the side seams. With the stretchier fabric, this meant a shorter/slimmer waistband than my first pair, which would have been fine except I also interfaced it as the waistband seemed to stretch out a bit too much on my first pair. Sadly the combination of a slimmer waistband plus the interfacing (which stops it having any give) means it can get a little uncomfortable after a big meal hence I have to put a bit of thought into whether they are going to be appropriate for my day!

cord bootcut ginger jeans

They are still totally wearable and I’m very proud of them – I was showing them off quite a bit after finishing! And I’m certainly not done with this pattern, I’m excited to make myself at least a couple more pairs, perhaps trying the skinnier leg version too…

Belcarra dress

Hello! For various reasons I’ve been quiet here a few months, but have been doing plenty of sewing and I’m looking forward to sharing my makes with you over the next few weeks…

First up, a dress that I’ve been imagining/planning to make for some time. If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know that I’m a fan of the Sewaholic Belcarra blouse, having made five to date and was keen to try adapting it to a dress. I debated between lengthening the pattern pieces into a kind of A line shift dress and this adaptation of adding an elastic waistband and gathered skirt, which I felt would work better with my fabric choice.

Belcarra dress front view

The main fabric is a lovely viscose from Minerva crafts (although I’ve also spotted some other suppliers selling it too). With the stripy design I thought a rectangular gathered skirt would work well. The black fabric is also a viscose from Minerva, that I’ve used in a few makes.

Belcarra dress back view

To convert the pattern to a dress I shortened the top length to a couple of inches lower than my waist (because I want to create a blousey effect) and squared off the side seam. For the waistband, I simply cut two rectangles the same length as the waist and 5.7cm wide (so the finished waistband is 2.7cm once the seam allowances are sewn up) to make a casing through which I inserted 1 inch wide elastic.

Belcarra dress waistband

I then ran into a bit of an issue as I realised I didn’t have enough fabric to make the width and length of skirt that I had in mind if I also wanted to ensure the stripes matched. I umm-ed and ahh-ed for a little while and then decided to go shorter than I’d intended, but add a black hem band to give a bit more length. I actually think the black hem band nicely balances the design 🙂 However, I was so focused on making the most of the fabric that I had that I ended up cutting a pretty wide skirt and it wasn’t until I’d sewn it up with the pockets that I realised I’d probably gone a bit over the top with the width! By this point I really couldn’t face unpicking everything (I’d used french seams for everything, including the pockets) so decided to try it as is.

Belcarra dress front view

In these photos I think the dress looks fine and the fabric is drapey enough that the wide skirt looks ok. However, the first day I wore this out was pretty windy and with the light and wide skirt fabric I felt like it had a tendency to blow up a bit too much so I mostly had my hands anchored into the pockets to keep it under control!

Belcarra dress pocket

I did take quite a bit of time over getting the stripes matching at the seams, they even match at the pockets! I also spent a while holding the fabric up in front of me deciding what stripes I wanted cutting across my torso. With hindsight, I think it might be a bit more flattering to have the widest stripe running across the bust rather than below it, I’ll just take that as a lesson learnt 🙂

Belcarra dress side view

The jury is still out on how much I like this dress, its not as flattering as I’d hoped and there are certainly a few things I’d do differently if I made it again. But it is still a nice light and comfy dress for warmer weather, just so long as its not windy!

Grainline Scout Tee

This make is all about the fabric for me – it is a gorgeous soft viscose that I brought on sale at John Lewis a couple of years ago. Back then I didn’t yet appreciate the value of a good quality fabric and even at half price this was the most expensive fabric I’d brought at that time so I only purchased a metre. I dutifully prewashed it as soon as I got home, but then it was left sitting in my stash as I didn’t feel confident enough to do it justice.

A few more successful makes under my belt and it was time for this to come out of the stash. Having only a metre meant I couldn’t use my go to top pattern the Sewaholic Belcarra (I need 1.25 metres for that) but thought it would be good to try something different anyway!

Grainline Scout Tee

Enter the Grainline Scout Tee. I’d only heard good things about this pattern from my friend Caroline – check out seven of her Scout Tees that she wore this year for one week one pattern here. Her day five Scout is actually the same fabric in a different colour way so I knew this pattern would be a good choice! Also, I was keen to try another woven top without darts for a design that doesn’t break up the pattern of the fabric (not that it would matter much with this abstract print!) and it is one less thing to worry about when fitting the garment.

Grainline Scout Tee

My bust measurement would put me at a size 8 but I went for size 10 since I have broad shoulders and didn’t want to make a toile. I also lengthened the top a bit since I’m tall. I’m pretty happy with the fit of this in the soft flowing fabric, but think it would be too boxy for me in a stiffer fabric.

Grainline Scout Tee side view

It is my first Grainline pattern and got on fine with the instructions (although this is quite a simple make so not much of a test). One thing to take note of is that the seam allowance is half an inch rather than the usual 5/8. I wanted to use french seams and found the smaller seam allowance a bit tricky for this on the shoulder seams as I don’t have a quarter inch foot. So for the side seams I decided to make it a bit easier on myself and sewed a 5/8 seam allowance, given there was plenty of ease and I’d sized up this wasn’t a problem.

With the flowing fabric and smaller seam/hem allowances I also found the neckline and sleeve hem a bit tricky to sew up neatly so next time I’ll probably use slightly wider allowances there to make it quicker to sew.

Grainline Scout Tee back view

Overall I’m very happy with this make and it has been worn quite a lot already! I love the print and the bright colours and even though it is a basic design think the quality of the fabric really steps it up so this top can be easily dressed up as well as down. Also I have been totally convinced that it is worth paying a bit more for good quality fabric as it makes this such a joy to wear!

Grainline Scout Tee

Plaid neck pleat dress

Back in January I went to the Pattern Cutting Weekend class at Ray Stitch taught by Alice Prier and thoroughly enjoyed it! Day 1 was making our custom fit blocks while on day 2 we got into the details of cutting patterns. Alice really knows her stuff and I came away super inspired with lots of ideas.

And viola, here is the first dress that I cut from my block!

Neck pleat dress front

I brought the fabric at Ray Stitch the weekend of the class, it is a mix of viscose and polyester and I was really drawn to the plaid. After the success of my plaid Laurel dress I was keen to have another go with some plaid.

When I brought the fabric, I was leaning towards making a skirt so I only brought 1.5m. However, after a bit of time to ponder, I wanted to use this for a dress. The dress was inspired by one I saw on Modcloth – I really liked the effect of the neck pleat with the plaid fabric.

Neck pleat dress profile

I calculated the position of the pleat such that when sewn up it would be parallel to the vertical line of the plaid. Although I originally planned for the shaping to be a simple folded pleat, when made it up I felt there was too much volume above the bust so I stitched it down more like a dart, but not all the way to the point so there is still a bit of movement and give there.

Neck pleat dress profile

The back bodice is princess seamed and the closure is an invisible zip down the centre back seam. I debated for a while about the skirt – a pleated  rectangle or some variation of a circle skirt. Turned out that only having 1.5m of fabric made the choice for me! All I could fit was a half circle skirt, but I’m pretty happy with this.

Neck pleat dress back

I took my time cutting this out so that I could center and match the plaid – I feel like I was pretty lucky to be able to do this so well with my limited fabric. I particularly like the way the plaid matches up in a diamond pattern on the side seams of the skirt.

Neck pleat dress side

Of course I had to add pockets to the design! Fabric limitations meant that I needed to use a different fabric for the pocket bags. So I used some black viscose that I had in my stash, which works well as it is lighter than the main fabric and drapes out of the way.

Neck pleat dress front

The neck and armholes are finished with an all in one facing. I used red cotton for a splash of colour on the insides. Then to match, I used some red bias binding from my stash for a hem facing that I finished with hand stitching (all 3m of it!).

Neck pleat dress insides

I made a couple of toiles of the bodice, which was just as well as they showed a few fitting adjustments that I still need to make to my block. Once I’ve done that, I’m very excited to be able to make lots of different designs that (hopefully!) will require minimal or no fitting adjustments.

I’ll leave you with some spinning photos that I tried out for fun with my new camera remote…

Neck pleat dress spinning

Little details

Do you find that since you’ve been sewing you notice a lot more details in clothing? I certainly have and sometimes find myself (subtly of course!) studying a garment that someone is wearing on the underground or on the street.

Here are a couple of some details I’ve spotted that have inspired me and that I’ve been able to take pictures of.

Check out this fantastic bird pocket! Found on a friend’s coat.

Bird pocket

Such simple but clever shaping and button placement – the button is functional, not just sewn on. I might try this on a casual Colette Laurel dress or see if I can think of some other clever pocket shapes.

While making my jeans I did a lot of studying of the jeans I own as well as out and about in shops and on the streets. One of the best things I discovered was that a pair of jeans I’ve owned for a few years doesn’t have the brand written on the rivets (as all my other pairs do), but odd little phrases:

Rivets right

rivet details

rivets left

rivet details

On the left pocket, both rivets say “over my dead body” but one in English and one in Swedish! (I brought the jeans in Sweden)

Now I want to find some unusual rivets to use in my me made jeans!

What details have you seen that have inspired you for your own makes?

Jeans!

I made jeans!!

When I try on a completed make for the first time that I’m particularly pleased with I find myself doing a little happy dance – these definitely got a happy dance!

Ginger jeans front view

I used the popular Ginger Jeans pattern by Closet Case Files and was very impressed. Heather Lou has done loads of research into making jeans and her passion for helping others to create this super satisfying garment shines through in the incredibly useful sewalong and ebook on sewing jeans. You could easily make the jeans with just the pattern and the sewalong for some extra detail, but I brought the ebook too for a few reasons – 1. I was so impressed with the effort put into the sewalong that I was happy to pay a bit more in appreciation of that; 2. it is useful to have all the resources in one place; 3. the ebook includes additional information such as how to convert the pattern into flared or bootcut jeans, which I fully intend to do.

Ginger jeans side view

I went for view A – the lower rise and stovepipe leg. However, I didn’t want such low rise jeans so I lengthened the rise by 3 cm. To check the fit of doing this, I initially cut everything out except the waistband then basted the jeans together (after stay stitching around the waist). The back was gaping so I took a wedge out there then adjusted the waistband pattern piece appropriately before cutting that out.

Ginger jeans front view

I cut a size 12 which from the measurements I was expecting to have a little room around the hips and to have to take the waist in (sorted out by the wedge mentioned above). Thankfully I basted the side seams after sewing up the rest of the jeans to check the fit again – this showed they were actually a bit tight around the hips. So I used a smaller seam allowance for the side seams from the hips down. I’ll likely do this extra fitting step for all subsequent pairs as the width required for a good fit will depend on how the fabric stretches.

Ginger jeans back view

I used the wider back pockets that are provided as a free download and also lengthened them (since I had lengthened the rise), which also means they are very practical and securely fit my phone. I forgot to lengthen the legs, but think I got away with this by finishing the hem raw edge and then just folding over once about 1cm. But I’ll certainly lengthen the legs before making again though as I think I’d prefer them to be a bit longer.

Ginger jeans front topstitching

I used this stretch denim from Minerva, largely because it wasn’t too expensive and I’d seen a couple of other bloggers make Gingers using it. In all honestly, I’d been expecting these to be a toile that I might get to wear around the house, but they have already been getting lots of wear as one of my proudest makes.

Ginger jeans side topstitching

For the top stitching, I used double strands of regular thread rather than top stitching thread and think this worked pretty well. I went for matching thread partly because I was nervous about it going wonky and being obvious, but also saw from research that the majority of coloured jeans don’t have contrast top stitching. I think the top stitching turned out pretty neat in the end, I didn’t rush it and used a soap slither to add guiding markings where I wasn’t just following a straight seam.

Jeans pockets elephant print

For a fun detail on the inside, I used an elephant print cotton that I brought in Brighton at least a year ago and as per Heather Lou’s recommendation sewed it up so that you could see the print on the inside. I french seamed the pockets and flat felled as many seams as I could. Took a bit longer, but I think worth it and I love how neat they are on the inside.

I can definitely see more me made jeans in my future! Have you made jeans or plan to make some?

 

Plaid Colette Laurel dress

I’ve been admiring plaid dresses for a while now with the desire to make one myself, so after the success of my first Laurel dress I dived straight into another with this cotton and viscose blend from Minerva Crafts. I think the fabric has a great combination of weight and drape for this style of dress so I’ll definitely keep an eye out for other cotton and viscose blends in the future.

Plaid Laurel dress front

I have to admit I can be a bit of a perfectionist which I did have to be conscious of at times. Part of the enjoyment for me of making this dress was working through the plaid matching and placement, but I also tried to make sure I didn’t get too obsessed with it and there were a couple of occasions where I stepped away from the dress for a day to two to check if the mismatch I was seeing was really worth unpicking and redoing!

Plaid Laurel neck binding
The neck binding did get unpicked and redone.

Cutting out took a lot longer than usual due to getting the plaid placement and symmetry right. But I’m pretty pleased with how it all turned out and think it was worth the extra effort. I found the plaid layout diagrams in this post by Really Handmade very useful.

Plaid Laurel dress back

With my first Laurel I used the bias binding as a facing but with this one I wanted it to be a feature so sewed it on as binding as per the instructions. For the back neck, I didn’t want to break up the plaid with a dart so I gathered the neck into the bias binding instead. I had expected the gathering to be visible, but actually with a bit of steam the fabric pretty much eased itself in giving a smoother neckline than I’d expected.

Plaid Laurel back detail

The other change I made was to make the pockets a little bigger so that they were the width of two inner squares. I also like the bigger pockets for practical reasons so will likely stick with this size for future Laurels. As I had plenty of fabric I cut out a couple of pocket plaid placement options to try out against the actual dress – one centred on an open square (my final preference) and the other centred on an intersection. So again, this was not a speedy sew!

The binding and hem are all sewn by hand, which I quite enjoyed and think it was worth it for the look of the uninterrupted fabric design.

Plaid Laurel dress front

The dress has a had good amount of wear already and is very comfortable. It works well with both under and over layers in the winter or on its own now that spring is finally here. All in all I’m very happy with my first plaid dress and doubt it will be my last!

Have you sewn with plaid? Do you enjoy taking time over matching or prefer a quicker sew?

My new favourite fabric marker

While I’ve been sewing, I’ve built up a small collection of fabric marking tools, some that get used a lot, some hardly ever. But recently I discovered a surprising new favourite – a slither of soap!

Soap as a fabric marker

I got the tip from Kathy Ruddy in the Craftsy class One Pattern, Many Looks: Pants and only recently tried it, but love it already! The soap glides very easily over the fabric and you can easily create a thin but distinct line. You can also be confident that it will completely wash out.

As I’ve tried a few different methods for marking fabric, I thought I’d do a quick run through of how I find them to work with:

Fabric markers

Air erasable fabric pen

  • Use frequently
  • Pros: glides fairly easily over the fabric to create a smooth line
  • Cons: only one colour so not useful on darker fabrics; with some fabrics it can fade pretty quickly so you need to reapply and/or only use with projects that will be made in a short period of time; if high accuracy is required, the mark created may be too thick

Chalk pencils

  • Use frequently, but generally just for making small marks unless the fabric is very stable
  • Pros: good control over mark size, mark doesn’t fade or brush off through normal fabric handling
  • Cons: need to use reasonable pressure to make mark which can pull fabric out of shape

Clover Chaco line pen

  • Use occasionally
  • Pros: can make a good mark with light pressure, so does not distort the fabric
  • Cons: if you aren’t careful, the chalk can smudge or get a bit messy

Dressmakers carbon paper

  • Only used once or twice
  • Pros: creates a neat marking (dots rather than a line)
  • Cons: I found it a bit tedious to use; I also prefer making a line than the dots this created, especially if you are using fabric with a busy pattern as the dots could easily get lost

Soap slither

  • New, but expect to be frequent
  • Pros: easily glides over fabric; can create a thin line; easily washes out
  • Cons: wouldn’t work on light coloured fabrics unless I can find a dark coloured soap; not useful if you will still need the marking after pressing as it quickly faded under the steam

Thread (using a running stitch)

  • Use frequently
  • Pros: Won’t disappear or fade (I join the ends together to be sure that it won’t get pulled out accidentally); easy to remove
  • Cons: takes longer as I typically use one of the other methods to draw a line first and then stitch over it

Do you have a favourite fabric marker? Have you discovered any regular household objects that make good sewing accessories?