Friday, 9 November 2018

Big Cat Cotton Hot Patterns 1237 Shirtdress

I've finished my first project for my holiday wardrobe and it is probably the one I was most excited about because of the fabric! For those of you who haven't read my handmade travel wardrobe post I'm going on a safari holiday in January so when I spotted this beautiful cotton charting with mini big cat print stocked by The Fabric Store I couldn't resist ordering it. I had in mind a crisp little sleeved shirtdress with breast pockets and all those classic safari chic details and I'm delighted with what I ended up with, although I didn't get there without a bit of a struggle.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Hot Pattern 1237 Shirtdress in Mini Big Cat Cotton Shirting from The Fabric Store

I've been meaning to try a design from Hot Patterns for quite some time. For a long time I've been eyeing them up on the Sewbox stand at the big craft shows and been intrigued by the big strong envelopes and wearable styles packed with interesting details. Sewbox stock a huge range of these patterns along with a good selection from other independent designers. I was having a little look through these styles when I spotted Hot Patterns 1237 - the Plain & Simple Favourite Shirt, Tunic and Shirtdress and it jumped out to me as having a lot of the features I was after; a relaxed fit and breast pockets with optional flaps, long sleeves with tabs plus lots of opportunities for topstitching along the princess seams and rear yoke.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Hot Pattern 1237 Shirtdress in Mini Big Cat Cotton Shirting from The Fabric Store

In general I really enjoyed sewing this pattern and liked the construction methods, details and drafting...it just came up really huge! Part of the trouble is entirely my fault as I had been warned that they run large so I should make a muslin. However a drought of sewing time over the summer has led to me being quite impatient recently with getting stuck into a project and as it was an oversized style I figured I could think carefully about the size I cut and adjust as I went. This approach was not right for what turned out to be a HUGE amount of ease! There is a very detailed body measurement chart on the back of the envelope but no finished measurements which would have been really useful. The patterns include an impressive range of sizes from 6-26 and I came up between the 8 and 10 so went with the smaller. I probably should have started from an even smaller size but there wasn't much smaller I could go.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Hot Pattern 1237 Shirtdress in Mini Big Cat Cotton Shirting from The Fabric Store

The recommended seam allowance is 3/8" and I used 1/2". After basting together the side seams I ended up taking out a whopping 1.5" on the double extra out including down the underarm seam grading gradually out to nothing at the cuff. That's 6" total and it still feels pretty roomy. I then lopped 6" off the hem; bringing it above the knee really helped to balance out the size of it as it was completely overwhelming my fairly petite stature. It wasn't just the general size that felt big, every aspect of the design felt large. Sort of as if if owned a PDF copy of the pattern I would have printed everything at a much smaller scale and it would have fit better proportionally. The breast pockets were extraordinarily large and I reduced them by 2" in both width and height to leave me with a 5" x 4" rectangle instead. By that point was fed up with fiddling around to make things work and abandoned the pocket flaps! I might return to them at a later date as I like the idea of them buttoning.
The only aspect that I still feel lis a little on the large side and I haven't been able to do anything about as it is finished quite early on in the construction process is the collar. It is growing on me but I feel like I want to reduce it by a centimetre or so. Any tips?!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Hot Pattern 1237 Shirtdress in Mini Big Cat Cotton Shirting from The Fabric Store

What was strange is that the whole thing is large apart from apart from the sleeves which are a good couple of inches short on me. Luckily I wanted to wear them rolled up and fixed with the tab feature but had I wanted to wear them long they look rather silly! The instructions tell you to sew the tab in place permanently but if you wanted the option to roll the sleeves down again you could easily do so by only fixing one end of the tab and sewing a buttonhole in the other end.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Hot Pattern 1237 Shirtdress in Mini Big Cat Cotton Shirting from The Fabric Store

I'm used to designs from one of the big four pattern companies including a lot of ease and this felt similar to working with one of those patterns in a lot of ways. The pattern sheets are laid out similar to the big four patterns with instructions and illustrations printed on to the pattern pieces rather than a separate booklet. It felt like there was a lot less of the information included at the start of the instruction booklet than by lots of indie companies but there were cutting layouts and brief sewing tips included. I don't usually pay that information much attention nowadays but like to look them over when I am trying a pattern company for the first time.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Hot Pattern 1237 Shirtdress in Mini Big Cat Cotton Shirting from The Fabric Store

In terms of the instructions I loved that the first steps were all about constructing the individual little bits like pockets, collar, sleeve tabs and facings so they are ready to apply to the main body further along. This is the way I usually sew. I often look ahead in the instructions and batch sew any bits like this. It is not only really satisfying to have all these bits ready when you need them but I also feel speeds me up as you can pin lots of little bits, then sew lots of little bits, then press lots of little bits rather than moving from station to station repeatedly.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Hot Pattern 1237 Shirtdress in Mini Big Cat Cotton Shirting from The Fabric Store

I would recommend sewing another shirt with more detailed instructions or researching shirt sewing techniques before tackling this pattern. The construction method is excellent but each step of the instructions is only explained fairly briefly and relies on you having some sewing knowledge. I don't think there is anything wrong with that and the pattern certainly provides you with everything you need but lot of indie sewing patterns have instructions so detailed you can basically learn to sew from them so be warned if you are a beginner, you will need to do a bit of extra research to achieve the best finish.

Pay attention to both the illustrations and the written instructions and look them over more than once. They don't include a lot of information but it is important to look at the stitching lines and where to clip etc. The yoke is cleanly finished but there is no mention of when and how to finish seams which is weird as if you don't you can end up with raw edges under the pocket flaps, along the major seams and raw facings. Having said that there are some great tips included, such as to sew both your patch pocket pieces together, press and the unpick to give you two perfectly even pocket shapes.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Hot Pattern 1237 Shirtdress in Mini Big Cat Cotton Shirting from The Fabric Store

I particularly liked the method for constructing and finishing the sleeve plackets. So quick and neat. The sleeves are two piece which is a lovely feature and gave me scope for more topstitching! I also love the curved shirt-tail hem shape but would recommend making that hem as narrow as you can to help you deal with easing it around those tight curves.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Hot Pattern 1237 Shirtdress in Mini Big Cat Cotton Shirting from The Fabric Store

There is no topstitching included in the instructions as the pattern is designed to have a clean look but I added in lots of it! Partly because that was the look I was after and partly because I just love doing it. I used the same standard white sew-all thread I was using for the constructiosn and did most seams as a faux flat fell by overlocking the allowances together and pressing to one side before top-stitching. This was rather than pressing them open which the instructions recommend for most seams.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Hot Pattern 1237 Shirtdress in Mini Big Cat Cotton Shirting from The Fabric Store

I'm wondering if the extra ease would bother me less in a softer, drapier fabric. The crisp finish of this cotton does give the dress some body and in something like a silk crepe or viscose challis it might hang closer to the body. As it is I'm enjoying styling it with a belt at the moment but I'm sure I'll be wearing it without and will appreciate all the extra room around the body in the heat!

The crisp finish of the cotton is actually what I like about it most. It is a very fine cotton (I will probably make myself a little cotton lawn slip to wear underneath this for modesty) but it has a really wonderful natural texture in the weave with you might be able to make out in some of the close up photos. Despite the crisp hand it is soft and smooth against the skin. It was delightful to work with as it holds such a lovely crease or clean edge when pressed. It made all of those little shirt details such a pleasure to construct. I didn't attempt any pattern matching as the big cats are so randomly placed but part way through construction I wondered if I should have as there are a lot of seam-lines going on with all those separate elements which has equalled lots of dissected cats!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Hot Pattern 1237 Shirtdress in Mini Big Cat Cotton Shirting from The Fabric Store

I used a lightweight woven cotton interfacing for the collar, cuffs and sleeve tabs. I wouldn't recommend interfacing the facing on this style as you want the front to hang nice and softly. As the cotton is so fine when you have two layers of the cotton together the big cats from underneath show through and I thought this might look a bit messy and chaotic so I cut the inside yoke from some plain white cotton lawn and underlined my breast pocket pieces with the same. I did consider cutting the front facing pieces from the same but then realised they are turned back to form part of the collar so stuck with the big cats both there and under the collar. I got a bit stuck with what direction to cut the collar piece in as cutting it on the recommended cross grain would have meant cats standing on their heads and tails at the front. In the end I cut it along the grain so at least on one side the cats are standing up. The cuff pieces I cut on the cross grain so the cats faced the same way as they did on the sleeves.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Hot Pattern 1237 Shirtdress in Mini Big Cat Cotton Shirting from The Fabric Store

The buttons I think really pull the look together and I'm pleased I went with a darker choice. I love the natural wooden finish of these. I randomly had a couple of them in my button box which I must have sampled and not used for a show at work at some point but liked them so much for this project I put them in my purse to see if I could track down some more on my travels somehow. Luckily I found them again easily in John Lewis and they had just enough for my project! The pattern doesn't include any guidance for the placement or spacing of your buttons so that was quite interesting to figure out! I wasn't sure how far to overlap the centre front or how high the first button should be so I just went with what I felt looked right. The pattern calls for 8 buttons to fasten the dress but I've used 9, despite shortening it quite a bit so I'd recommend purchasing a few spare buttons. As my sleeves are permanently rolled up I didn't use the four recommended for the cuffs, just two on the tabs to finish them off.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Hot Pattern 1237 Shirtdress in Mini Big Cat Cotton Shirting from The Fabric Store

Thanks to Susan at Sewbox for giving me the opportunity to try out a Hot Patterns design. I'll certainly be giving another a try in future as the drafting and construction are great and they have such a wide selection of styles but I'll be sure to make a thorough muslin next time! I'm keen to make up one a more fitted style as I'm unsure how much of the size issue was due to the ease included in their drafting as standard and how much was down to the fact that this is an oversized style.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Bottle Green Corduroy Jenny Overalls (with detachable bib!)

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Patterns Jenny Overalls in Bottle Green Corduroy from Like Sew Amazing with Detachable Bib

I'm really excited to share this project with you today. I finished these overalls a week ago and have already worn them three times; the sign of a successful garment! Sarah from Like Sew Amazing offered me some fabric from her online store to try and this beautiful bottle green corduroy was an obvious choice for me the second I saw it. Corduroy is everywhere on the high street at the moment and perfect for this time of year, particularly in rich autumnal hues like this. Sarah also has a wine, purple and some beautiful floral prints on warm, dark bases in stock at the moment. I was really happy with the fabric when it arrived. It has a nice sheen like a cotton velvet and is quite chunky with a wale of 8. The wale is the number of ridges in an inch and 8 is quite low. Something like a needlecord would have a much higher wale closer to twenty. Despite the width of the wale the fabric itself is not overly thick and is beautifully soft. Some corduroys can be a little stiff.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Patterns Jenny Overalls in Bottle Green Corduroy from Like Sew Amazing with Detachable Bib

I was initially going to make Lander or Persephone pants but then Heather Lou very generously sent me a copy of the Jenny Overalls along with the Fiona Sun-dress and I couldn't get the idea of bottle green corduroy overalls out of my head. I've already got two versions of the Turia Dungarees, a more fitted McCalls style and the Cleo Pinafore in my wardrobe so really questioned whether making another pair would be a waste. Then I recalled seeing an amazing version shared on Instagram; Mia made hers with a detachable bib! I could make trousers with the option to turn them into overalls if I feel like it. I'm so glad I did make them as I definitely need this particular pair of dungarees in my life! To me they feel really of the 1940s but styled like this with a turtleneck or my new striped tee a few people have commented that they have a great seventies vibe too.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Patterns Jenny Overalls in Bottle Green Corduroy from Like Sew Amazing with Detachable Bib

This was quite a big project but enjoyed every step of putting it together. I thought I couldn't learn anything new from making more dungarees but these feel completely different to those I have tried before and the making of them was too. What I love about Closet Case Patterns designs is that they usually involve a number of interesting construction techniques, some of which I haven't tried before and they all combine to make a beautifully finished garment which is built to last. I feel like time and thought has been put into the best techniques, both in terms of aesthetic and practicality. For example the lapped zip running down into the pocket at the side seam of these trousers and the little shaped waistband tab which fastens with a button.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Patterns Jenny Overalls in Bottle Green Corduroy from Like Sew Amazing with Detachable Bib

I did get a little confused with the lapped zip instructions but it turned out beautifully. I was finishing the insides of my trousers on the overlocker and found it quite tricky to finish the side seams on there after the zip was inserted. I'd recommend finishing the side seams once you've got the pocket pieces in place but before you put in the zip if you're overlocking. You'll be left with a fair bit of seam allowance in this area but I think I'd prefer that than a messy finish. The pattern comes with the option to sew a zip either side of the waist to make it easier to get in and out. I only needed one and have plenty of room. If you're struggling with the lapped zip this post is very helpful and covers the pocket construction too which I think is really great by the way. I like the corduroy facings, large size of the pocket bags and finishing them with french seams. As suggested in the instructions I added a lightweight twill tape to the seam allowances of the pocket openings to help prevent them stretching out with time. For my pocket bags I used some Liberty Tana Lawn in Queue for the Zoo which I had left over from a shirt I made for my stepdad. I like that Closet Case patterns always instruct you to use the wrong side inside the pockets so you can see the fabric in all it's glory when your put them on.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Patterns Jenny Overalls in Bottle Green Corduroy from Like Sew Amazing with Detachable Bib

I cut the size 8 mainly as it matched my hip size. The 8 is an inch big on the bust and waist for me but I the bust isn't particularly important with this style and the extra room at the waist came in useful when adding the detachable bib. I adore the fit. They feel totally different to any dungarees I've made before and are certainly more winter appropriate. I love the neat little fitted waist, flaring out into wide trousers and the close fit of the bib along with the shape of it and the pocket. These elements make this garment feel a bit more elegant, feminine and sophisticated than the other overalls in my wardrobe. Plus they are just so snug and comfortable! I was a bit apprehensive about the width of the leg when I first looked at the pattern pieces but now they are made I adore it. A bit of a departure from my usual style but it hasn't taken me long to get used to it. I took a whopping 4" off the leg to keep them at floor length on me (I'm 5ft 3" for reference). Now I've worn them a little bit with different shoes I feel like perhaps 3.5" would have been better. I may go back in and give myself a bit more length but I'm a bit worried that the stitching line and pressed edge won't come out of the corduroy now.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Patterns Jenny Overalls in Bottle Green Corduroy from Like Sew Amazing with Detachable Bib

My absolute favourite thing about the project is the detachable bib. Mia does share how to do this hack on her Instagram Stories but I didn't realise beforehand so made up my own version which is actually the opposite way round; my buttons are attached to the waistband and buttonholes are in the bib. It is pretty quick and simple to do and if you want to do it this way you'll want quite small flat buttons so they don't add too much bulk at the waist. I luckily had six of just the right colour and size in my stash. When cutting my bib pieces I simply added an extra 1.5" to the bottom to give me that much extra depth to tuck into the waistband and add fastenings to. I also did this to the front pocket pieces. I then cut a strip the same length as the width of the bib and 2" wide. I pressed one long edge under then sewed the remaining raw edges to the bottom of the bib, right sides together. I trimmed the seam allowances, turned it through to the right side and topstitched in place giving a cleanly finished extension to add the buttonholes to. If anyone is interested in more details let me know and I could do a quick tutorial!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Patterns Jenny Overalls in Bottle Green Corduroy from Like Sew Amazing with Detachable Bib

Obviously the end of the straps need fastening to the waistband at the back. To do this I just finished the ends by turning under twice and stitching, then sewing buttonholes in the straps and attaching buttons inside the waistband just above the rear darts. If I did this again I'd finish the bottom of the straps in the same way as the bib instead so that these button holes are through two layers of fabric and a little more robust. After a day of wear these start to pull out of shape. A little interfacing in the buttonhole area could be beneficial too.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Patterns Jenny Overalls in Bottle Green Corduroy from Like Sew Amazing with Detachable Bib

If you're going to attach your bib with buttons and your fabric is thick I'd recommend giving yourself a little extra ease than usual at the waist. You end up with a couple more layers of fabric plus the buttons inside there when the bib is attached. Worth it as buttons are the easiest and most secure way to fasten your bib. Adding the buttons meant I could spend more time playing with the automatic buttonhole feature on my new machine too. It makes my day every time and I'm looking forward to showing you more about the machine soon. There are some short videos in the stories highlights on my Instagram profile for the time being.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Patterns Jenny Overalls in Bottle Green Corduroy from Like Sew Amazing with Detachable Bib

I followed this detailed post when attaching the buckles and sliders to the straps as I have never used buckles with sliders before and was very confused! I'm very excited to be able to adjust the strap length now though rather than have them sewn down! I trimmed a good couple of inches off the length of the straps once they were attached so I didn't have too much excess flapping about at the shoulders. I used the Closet Case Patterns Jenny Overalls Hardware Kit and love how the matt antique brass looks against the bottle green cord. I only have the Prym tools for applying jeans buttons which these particularly ones didn't fit so I just whacked them in with a hammer! They are good quality and nice and sturdy.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Patterns Jenny Overalls in Bottle Green Corduroy from Like Sew Amazing with Detachable Bib

If I'd been making them in denim or a twill I might have gone with more of a workwear look with a lot of topstitching. But with this lovely rich corduroy I kept the topstitching minimal as, particularly on the trousers, I wanted a clean contemporary look. I didn't include the optional faux fly front or topstitching around the pocket bags and openings and I chose to slipstitch the interior of the waistband down by hand rather than topstitching. I did machine stitch the hem as I love how deep it is and wanted to emphasise that. This corduroy is quite soft so the depth of the hem really helps hold the shape of the trousers out wide at the bottom.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Patterns Jenny Overalls in Bottle Green Corduroy from Like Sew Amazing with Detachable Bib

As with my Ginger Jeans I find the rear patch pockets to be a little on the large side. That bothers me less with the style of these trousers; I think the width of the leg balances them out. But I might reduce them slightly if I make them again. I used the pocket placement as marked on the pattern and think this is about right on me. I like that they are a little low to suit this style.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Patterns Jenny Overalls in Bottle Green Corduroy from Like Sew Amazing with Detachable Bib

The only disadvantage of nice soft corduroy such as this is that areas like the knees do start to sag after a bit of wear and I feel like this ruins the line of the wide trousers a little. It pings right back into shape after a wash or nice steamy press though. The other thing I would recommend is overlocking the raw edges of the fabric before pre-washing or finishing them in some way. When I got it out of the machine there was a crazy amount of bottle green fluff all over the place! I felt like I was cleaning it up for days. It was pretty messy to work with throughout the whole process and as I sew in my bedroom I was quite relieved to to finish purely so that I could give everything a good clean!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Patterns Jenny Overalls in Bottle Green Corduroy from Like Sew Amazing with Detachable Bib

Aside from this the fabric was dreamy to sew with and is even nicer to wear. The trickiest thing about working with corduroy, as with velvet, is that it is easy to damage the pile of the fabric when pressing. It was certainly the case with this corduroy that if I pressed too hard along a seam line or hem the pile would permanently flatten. Also if I applied heat directly to the right side of the fabric it would create an unwanted sheen along seam allowances and edges. I wanted to use a nice hot iron as this corduroy is 100% cotton and responded well to pressing and shaping so I opted to use a press cloth when necessary. To prevent damage to the pile of the fabric I pressed the corduroy from the wrong side as much as possible and against another piece of the fabric so the pile wasn't being squashed onto the ironing board. You can get special velvet boards for this purpose which have lots of little 'needles' poking up but I don't have one and they are quite expensive. I find using another piece of the fabric works just as well. Now I have finished the garment I am still pressing the fabric against itself and from the wrong side as much as possible.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Closet Case Patterns Jenny Overalls in Bottle Green Corduroy from Like Sew Amazing with Detachable Bib

I know I'm going to wear these to death this winter. They look great paired with so many of the tops in my wardrobe and I can get double wear out of them as trousers one day and dungarees the next! Thanks so much to Sarah at Like Sew Amazing and Heather Lou at Closet Case Patterns for giving me the means and inspiration to make this winter wardrobe winner.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

October Indie Pattern Update!


Happy Halloween everyone! The end of October already. The indie sewing community has certainly been embracing the changing season; this month's update includes more new pattern releases than ever before! I've been eagerly eyeing up the new designs for my winter wardrobe and my travel sewing plans which I discussed here on the blog last week. The colder weather has hit London and it is the perfect time to stay indoors, stay cosy and spend some quality time with your sewing machine!


New Patterns


  • Thread Theory released two patterns for men's jeans! The Fulford Jeans have a classic regular cut and straight leg with a fairly high rise and the Quadra Jeans have a more modern slim fit with a slightly tapered leg and have a moderately low rise. If you're struggling to decide which is the right pattern for you they wrote a very handy post about the differences between the two patterns to help you choose.
  • New from Seamwork are the Dani Pinafore and Tacara Dress. I fell in love with the clean lines and deep v-neck of Dani and sewed one up straight away. It is exactly what my winter wardrobe needs layered over merino Nikko tops. Tacara would be great in merino jersey, the drape would suit the cocoon shape and fitted drop sleeves.
  • To celebrate New York Comic Con and halloween this month Mood released a couple of new cosplay patterns. The Helios is their version of a star-lord jacket to be made in faux leather or twill and Galatea is a ladies style designed for stretch fabrics which looks amazing made up in their shiny performance spandex. The seventies vibes of the Cherry Jumpsuit are definitely tempting me. They also released the Aspen Ensemble, Ash PantsAlder TopBlackthorn Coat, Dogwood Ensemble, Elm Jacket and Hazel Coat.
  • The Carlsson Sweater is new from Style Arc. I love the style lines of this. It has an extended shoulder line and rounded yoke as well as an angled hip band and diagonal seams. You can buy it in a discounted bundle with their popular Joni Track Pant. They also released the Venice Knit Dress which has a cocoon shape, angled seams and slit pockets. Their new freebie of the month with any purchase was the Iris Woven Dress; a simple sleeveless shift dress with a slight cocoon shape and patch pockets.
  • The new collection of two patterns from Deer and Doe is a knock out! I adore the drama of the maxi length variation of the Magnolia Dress combined with plunging neckline and big sleeves. It also comes with a variation much more wearable on a day to day basis. The origami welt pockets on the Opium Coat are such a lovely detail on this beautiful swing style. 
  • Ensemble Patterns and Chalk & Notch have worked together with their latest releases, the Parasol Jumpsuit & Trousers and the Orchid Midi Dress. Elements of both patterns can be mix and matched together and you can buy them together as a bundle. I love the feature pockets on the thigh of the trousers and wrap front of the dress and am excited to see this kind of collaboration between pattern designers.
  • Making Patterns Fly released the Mangas Dress which is a mini tunic style designed to be made in knits. As well as large patch pockets the main feature of this design is the dropped sleeves which are extra long to be worn ruched up the arm.
  • New from Coralie Bijasson at C'est Moi Le Patron is the Eliane T-Shirt and Dress. This knit design features a twist front and deep v-neckline and cap be sewn with or without sleeves.
  • The Heron Culottes are the latest release from Afternoon Patterns. These are bang on trend with their high waist and wide leg. The shape is created by inverted box pleats a the waist and they have an invisible zip and button closure on the side.
  • Kommatia Patterns released the Beatnik Dress. A bodycon stretch style, this features a mock turtleneck and cap sleeves and looks great on all the testers. I think it could be particular good in a classic black.
  • CocoWawa Crafts released the ideal snuggly pattern to make as we head towards winter in the northern hemisphere. The Pumpkin Cardigan and Cardi Dress has a simple scoop neckline of two depths, two lengths, two pocket styles and a flat band or hem ruffle to choose from as well as the option to make sleeveless. 
  • The Blouse is the latest addition to the The Avid Seamstress collection of classic and timeless designs. It has a loose fit, elegant slim stand collar and three quarter length sleeves with elasticated cuffs giving shape. A great choice for anyone looking to make their first blouse.
  • Hot Patterns released two new patterns this month. The loose fitting cocoon shape of Beatnick Sweatshirt created by darts at the hemline combined with the wide funnel neck has a real retro feel. It would look great combined with the slim fit of the new City Slicker Pull-On Pants. These come with the option to add stirrups too. 
  • Patrons les BG released The Bold. A classic underwear set for men, the patterns consists of a tank style vest and stretch trunks. A wardrobe essential and perhaps a great gift to make if you are starting to think about festive sewing. I had the pleasure of meeting them at the Knitting & Stitching Show and was really impressed by their patterns!
  • The Hayden Sleeveless Blazer Dress is new from Fabrics Store. A great little wrap style with lapel detail this would be great for layering. As well as worn closed as a dress it could be left to hang open as a vest. They also released the Celine Pull On Jumpsuit which also features a wrap front, Jules Pleated Shorts and Aiko Ombre Maxi Dress which is designed to be made in two tones of linen. Love the front pockets on this. They post a handy tutorial for each of their patterns which is great for a bit of extra guidance.
  • There's a new baby arriving in my family soon and I'm excited about the excuse to sew some tiny clothes! I'm taken with the new Poppy & Jazz patterns from Lisa Comfort. The Pansy Dress and Clover Reversible Trousers are both quick to make a super practical. I love that this new release also includes a dog coat!
  • The new super basic Tank Top pattern from Halfmoon Atelier is free to download for newsletter subscribers! With a simple scoop neck and body skimming fit this is a handmade wardrobe staple and a great stash buster too. 
  • DG Patterns released the Rebecca Top & Dress which is a fit and flare style knit design. I love the cowl neck and the pattern also offers two sleeve lengths to choose from.
  • New from Elbe Textiles are the Fremantle Pants which are a unisex design with subtle shaping from rear darts and a tapered leg. They have front and back pockets and an elasticated waist with drawstring. They look great made up in natural fibres such as linen and cotton.
  • The Screwdriver Top is the latest release from Our Lady Of Leisure. I love the drama of the sleeves with those origami folds and big bow which fastens the wrap bodice. Looking forward to the challenge of sewing this one up!  
  • Helen's Closet released the Elliot Sweater & Tee which has two sweater views (one with a cropped length and one with a high-low split hem) and a classic t-shirt view. Perfect for the changing season and quick to make with those raglan sleeves.
  • Tessuti released the Evie Bias Skirt. I could definitely do with one of these in my wardrobe. I love the chic midi length style in satin and can see it layered with fluffy jumpers, tights and boots in winter. I've not sewn much on the bias so would love to use Tessuti's tips to make this.
  • The Citrus Leggings are new from Tuesday Stitches and come with the option to sew with a flat side panel or gathered detail along either the side seam or front and back seams from the knee down to the ankle. All the seam lines would make them great for colour blocking too.
  • Athina Kakou launched two new patterns in October. The Rachel Jumpsuit & Trousers has a slight 'modern overalls feel and those clean lines and wide legs which I am so drawn to at the moment. The Nikki Cardigan has two lengths, a wrap front and optional self fabric belt with loops.
  • New from Merchant & Mills are the TN31 Parka and The Costermonger which is a market tote bag turned backpack with leather straps. The coat is a relaxed interpretation of the classic fish tail parka with a drawstring waist and ribbed bomber style collar which I love. It can be made lined or unlined and is a perfect match for their oilskin and outdoor fabrics. 
  • Hey June Handmade released the Kendrick Overalls. I love these! The two views provide the option to make either with a high waisted, wide leg cropped trouser or high waisted fitted skirt. The bodice pieces are like super wide straps complete with bust darts for shaping.
  • The new Babydoll Dress pattern from Simple Sew is currently available exclusively with this issue of Sew Now Magazine. It has a sixties vibe with a button back and gentle bell shaped sleeves.
  • The Mystic Bra is the latest release from Orange Lingerie. This is a smooth, seamless t-shirt bra style with foam cups and underwire. The frameless design can be adapted to fasten in front. If you enjoy sewing lingerie this is a must have style for your wardrobe!
  • Another bra pattern released this month is the Amethyst from Pin Up Girls at Bra Maker's Supply. It has foam cups and great lift and uses lace edging along the cups and band for a professional look.
  • October's PDF pattern release from Sew Over It is the Jesse Coatigan. An unlined jacket with shawl collar, dropped shoulder and deep pockets this would be great made up in either a snuggly knit or wool woven. They also released their popular Coco Jacket PDF as a paper pattern. Inspired by the classic Chanel boucle tweed jacket this cropped style features princess seams, a two piece sleeve, full lining and optional braiding. A true timeless garment.
  • New from Tilly & The Buttons are the Nora Top and Ness Skirt. Nora is a quick and easy modern take on the sweater with high neck or neck band and boxy shape with dropped shoulders. Ness is a classic straight fly front skirt with shaped waistband and curved back yoke. I particularly like the below knee version with front hem split.
  • Sew Style Me released the Nikki Blazer, a collarless tailored style. I love the shaping of this with the princess seams, neat nipped in waist and pointed peplum. A really clever, slimming design.
  • The new Merlo Field Tee from Sew House Seven has caught my eye as a great wearable basic with interesting details. I'd love to make it up in two colours of merino to layer under dungarees and pinafores in the colder months.
  • Republique du Chiffon launched an absolutely gorgeous collection of six designs for the new season. My personal favourites are the Leonard Coat and the Debbie Dress made up in velvet for festive parties just like the sample. It has that effortlessly which French vibe to it. I'm also quite taken with the unusual Yeta Blouson Jacket which combines a classic notched collar with ribbed cuffs and hem. The collection also includes the Zelie Blouse, Jocelyne Dress and Louis Trousers. Currently avaiable in French only but English versions are coming very soon.
  • The Thrifty Stitcher released her third print pattern for Sewing Quarter in the form of the Melissa Breton Tee. This is a wonderful basic to have multiple of in your wardrobe and would be particularly made up in a think knit with classic stripe. blog series of hacks and tips 
  • Itch to Stitch released the Montana Shirt. If you're looking for a classic button up women's shirt to make this looks like a great pattern. It features flat felled seams, tower sleeve plackets and a yoke constructed with the burrito method for a professional finish. I love the option to make it with a tie front too!
  • New from Sew Swimmingly is the Veronica Panty pattern which is the first in their SewSexy collection of lingerie. They are a low rise knicker with a cheeky fit and cut out detail at the rear of the waistline.
  • Rosy Pena launched a new collection of seven designs! The FW18 Classic Collection consists of the Sarah Cami/Slip (for soft knit fabrics), the Mariah Blouse/Dress (with beautiful trumpet sleeves), the Juanita Jumpsuit (palazzo style), Olga Cardigan (with classic v-neck), Krystal Coat/Duster (with waterfall front), Gina Culotte (great in structured or drapey fabrics) and the Rosalinda Top/Dress (with mock roll-neck & deep armholes). My favourite of these is Juanita; I need a wrap style jumpsuit in my wardrobe pronto!
  • The Eli Monster released the Danser Skirt which is a quick to make half circle skirt. It has a slim 1" waistband and fastens with a zip.
  • New from DG Patterns is the Gilliane Cardigan and Raven Pyjamas Set. The cardigan is a loose fitting style with open front in two lengths with optional patch pockets. The pyjamas have multiple options for sleeve length, leg length and also the option to sew as a shirtdress style nightie. They also released the Rebecca Top and Dress which is a fit and flare knit style with cowl neckline.
  • I missed this last month but The School of Making from Alabama Chanin have been releasing a number of their designs as stand alone paper patterns. My highlights include the Ezra Coat, the Wrap Dress, Factory Dress and Car Coat but make sure to check out the full range here.
  • Alina Sewing & Design Co. released the Fulton Sweater Blazer which is an open front knit jacket in two lengths with a slim but not tailored fit. A great layering piece. My favourite elements of the design are the contemporary twist on a notched collar and the contrast facing inside the cuffs which is exposed when sleeves are rolled up.
  • New from Swim Style is the Reversible String Bikini pattern. This is a classic bikini with halter neck tie and side ties on the briefs. Definitely a contender for my holiday wardrobe, technically two bikinis in one!
  • iKatee Couture are a French company who make gorgeous sewing patterns for children and have just launched their first designs for women! Ida and Louise Mum are the grown up versions of two of their popular girls blouse designs. Both feature sweet ruffle and gathering details. The PDFs are available now with paper soon to follow.
  • Wardrobe By Me added two new designs to their menswear collection. There's a classic Men's Tank Top with bound neckline and armholes and stretch Men's Boxer Briefs which can be made with either a double front lined crotch or fly crotch.


Pattern updates and expansions


  • Tessuti have updated their incredibly popular Mandy Boat Tee to include a range of four sizes from XXS-XXL! They've also added the option fo making with three quarter length or full length sleeves and have improved the neckline shape. And it is still free to download! 
  • Named released an add on for the Anni Building Block pattern they launched earlier this year. The original pattern already included three different bottom options and endless design combinations but now you can download the Anni Wrap Skirt for even more variety.
  • True Bias re-released the Emerson Pant and Short pattern. It is now available in both printed and PDF format and has a new high rise option in addition to the original mid-rise.
  • The Wardrobe By Me Komi Kimono Jacket has been updated to include more style options and an extended size range. 


Sew-alongs, Tutorials and Online Courses


  • Also as part of her new Pattern of the Month feature Megan Nielsen has been posting a series of tutorials for her Karri Dress which includes tips for how to incorporate your fabric scraps into the garment and also add piping.
  • Thread Theory are running a men's jeans sew-along which covers all the essential steps to sewing a classic pair of jeans and applies to both of their new jeans patterns.
  • The Dreamstress has been running a sew-along for the Scroop Patterns Otari Hoodie. The posts guide you in choosing your fabric right through to the finishing details and will include some pattern hacks too.
  • The Thrifty Stitcher will be posting a blog series of hacks and tips for making the most out of her new Breton Tee pattern. Head on over to her blog to check it out.
  • The Sewing Workshop are running a sew-along on their blog for their recently released Picasso Top & Pants. The posts cover sewing up both elements of the outfit and include helpful tips on sewing that lovely pieced front of the top accurately. 


Upcoming!


  • Melissa from Fehr Trade is currently testing her next activewear pattern.
  • Next up in the new SewSexy line from Sew Swimmingly is the Veronica Bralette following on from the panty pattern which was recently released. I love the unusual neckline on this design.
  • I've just made the Persephone Pants and am about as in love with them as the rest of the sewing community seem to be so I am excited to see that Anna Allen is currently working on new patterns for slim leg pants and jeans.
  • Pipe Dream Patterns are currently testing the Tara Basics and Anya Basics patterns. Each a collection of knit styles with a variety of necklines, sleeves, bodies, dresses and tops between them.
  • Elbe Textiles is working on a pattern for a unisex, oversized shirt with dropped shoulder.
  • Emily from In The Folds is currently testing her next two patterns. They are both jackets and you can find a bit more information about them on her blog. They will be released alongside another pattern which was tested earlier this year.
  • Ann Normandy is set to release The Shorts sewing pattern soon.
  • You Made My Day Patterns are working on a funnel neck coat pattern just in time for the onset of the cold weather. A sneaky peak on Instagram shows a cute little pocket detail.
  • The Sorrel Dress will be the next release from Jennifer Lauren Handmade and should be with us later this week. She also hinted at paper patterns coming soon too! 
  • Ready To Sew have a new collection coming soon.
  • Alice & Co Patterns are working on their next design - the Intrepid Boiler-suit. There have been some great tester versions popping up on Instagram!


Other Exciting News!


  • Unfortunately Smyly Magazine is no more but the good news is the patterns are still available as part of Athina Kakou's range. Currently available as PDF downloads are Sheona, Abi, Lisa, and Samantha.


And to finish up, here's your monthly dose of indie sewing inspiration! Happy sewing!


  • Jasika's striped linen In The Folds Peppermint Jumpsuit hacked to have a wrap front.
  • I love the longer length of Karen's second Myosotis Dress. Florals on dark viscose bases are perfect for this time of year.
  • Boots & Cats Katryna twist dress - mash up of Sew Easy In A Twist pattern and Plantain Tee
  • Chloe's Ulysses Trench is astonishing! She used both sides of an Atelier Brunette jacquard to create this amazing shimmering creation.
  • Zoe's Burnside Bibs are possibly my favourite so far. I've been resisting making myself a pair as I feel like my wardrobe has enough overalls but when I saw these in the flesh at the Fabric Godmother open day last month I was powerless to resist!

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Striped MIY Collection T-Shirt from Beginner's Guide to Dressmaking

I feel like I've been on the hunt for my ideal t-shirt pattern for the entire time I've been sewing and it is a subject I've returned to a couple of times here on the blog. It may seem like a simple garment but finding the right pairing of fabric and pattern and getting the cut and fit just so for your body shape can be really tricky. I hadn't been entirely satisfied with any of my handmade tees before and find myself falling back on old RTW favourites which are looking quite worn now. That is until I discovered this MIY Collection pattern and hit upon success.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: MIY Collection Beginner's Guide to Dressmaking T-Shirt in Striped Cotton Rayon Jersey from Girl Charlee

Wendy Ward has recently released some of the designs from her first book 'The Beginner's Guide to Dressmaking' as stand alone PDF patterns. When she offered one to me to try I snapped up the T-Shirt pattern as I thought it was about time I tried a tee from a different designer. This is a less structured style than those I have sewn before and actually than in my wardrobe. To be honest I thought I would prefer a more fitted style with a deeper neckline but I gave it a whirl and think I have accidentally discovered just what I was looking for!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: MIY Collection Beginner's Guide to Dressmaking T-Shirt in Striped Cotton Rayon Jersey from Girl Charlee

I went a little bit nuts for this striking striped jersey when I spotted it on the Girl Charlee Instagram months ago and they very kindly sent me a length to play with. I adore the seventies feel of the vivid colours and retro stripe design. It has taken me a shamefully long time to get around to finding the right pattern for it and sewing it up. But it has been worth the wait as this simple style really showcases the stripe and beautiful colours. It is lightweight but opaque and the rayon content gives it a lovely drape. I've found with some fine jerseys that they have a weird slightly grainy texture and are easy to stretch out of shape permanently but this has a gorgeously smooth soft hand and a bouncy stretch. Perfect for a little tee.
Diary of a Chain Stitcher: MIY Collection Beginner's Guide to Dressmaking T-Shirt in Striped Cotton Rayon Jersey from Girl Charlee

The sizing on this pattern (and I think with the other patterns from the book) is quite generic with just three sizes covering busts from 31.5" to 40". I absolutely don't think there needs to be more detailed sizing on a knit style like this. My bust and waist measurements actually fell just between the small and medium sizes but I opted to cut the small based on the finished measurements. I figured 2" of ease around the bust on a t-shirt, even that has a relaxed fit, would be plenty. I'm very happy with the fit of this, it has the perfect amount of ease and length for me. I am sometimes concerned about fine, very stretchy knits like this clinging and showing all the lumps and bumps but this skims the body really nicely. I am getting a couple of drag lines around the bust but I think that's more to do with the way this fabric hangs on the body than anything being too small.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: MIY Collection Beginner's Guide to Dressmaking T-Shirt in Striped Cotton Rayon Jersey from Girl Charlee

It has a similar amount of ease around the body to the Pattern Fantastique Equinox which is the last t-shirt pattern I made. But I feel like my Equinox tees shift around on the body in a weird way throughout the day so I'm constantly fiddling with them. Not the case with this one. I prefer the cut of this, particularly the bateau neckline. It is perhaps a fraction wide on me as a hint of bra strap peaks out. I have quite small shoulders so may rectify this next time by taking a small wedge out of the centre front of the pattern piece. Here's a photo with hair up so you can really see that lovely neckline shape!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: MIY Collection Beginner's Guide to Dressmaking T-Shirt in Striped Cotton Rayon Jersey from Girl Charlee

Of course when working with knit fabrics, even when using exactly the same pattern, in exactly the same size with the same construction techniques the result can be completely different in one fabric to another. I adore this pattern in a lightweight drapey knit like this but I'm not sure I'd like it in a more structured knit. It would be quite boxy and that isn't a particularly flattering or comfortable shape on my body type. I've certainly noticed that I wear my lightweight grey Equinox Tee a lot more than the heavier white cotton jersey version.

I was initially unsure about the lack of neckband; the neckline is simply turned back and stitched (I did this with a twin needle). I've come to quite enjoy sewing neckbands now I've done quite a few a love that finish, particularly a nice skinny one. However simply hemming this edge is much better for the bateau shape as it would be difficult to set a band into that tight corner on each shoulder without distorting the shape. This finish also suits the relaxed style of the tee.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: MIY Collection Beginner's Guide to Dressmaking T-Shirt in Striped Cotton Rayon Jersey from Girl Charlee

My favourite thing about this design is the sleeve. I've always been a fan of a small cap proportional on me and this one sits really well. Even in a fine knit like this it holds its shape well as the entire sleeve piece is doubled back on itself rather than hemmed. It makes for a lovely clean finish and a much better defined edge in a lightweight fabric.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: MIY Collection Beginner's Guide to Dressmaking T-Shirt in Striped Cotton Rayon Jersey from Girl Charlee

A big part of making this top was of course the stripe matching, made even more complicated by the fact that this fabric was very shifty to cut out and work with! What did make the job a little easier is that you're only contending with two pattern pieces. One for the front and back bodice and one for the sleeves! I cut the front by cutting one half, drawing onto the pattern piece where the stripes were then flipping the pattern piece along the centre line to cut the other half. I used the stripes drawn on the pattern to line up the piece when cutting the back. The sleeves I didn't attempt to match with the body in any way but made sure to cut two that matched. I used lots of pins when assembling and am delighted with how that turned out.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: MIY Collection Beginner's Guide to Dressmaking T-Shirt in Striped Cotton Rayon Jersey from Girl Charlee

I thought the instructions were great, with nice clear illustrations. They're laid out slightly differently to what many of us may be used to and each point is fairly brief but there is a tonne of information about sewing with knits and relevant techniques included before you even get to the step by step method. I think a lot of the information has probably come from the book the pattern originated from which is a real bonus. I particularly enjoyed the additional instructions for hacking your pattern to do some colour blocking by adding a vertical c/front or back seam or alternatively a diagonal or horizontal seam. A great way to push beginners on to get creative with their sewing.

I've taken the photos with the tee untucked over skinny jeans so you can see the cut of the whole thing but my favourite way to wear it at the moment is tucked into high waisted trousers like these; really making the most of that seventies vibe. It is also great for layering under overalls/dungarees. These trousers are my new Persephone pants...blog post on these coming soon!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: MIY Collection Beginner's Guide to Dressmaking T-Shirt in Striped Cotton Rayon Jersey from Girl Charlee

I think my wardrobe could probably do with some slightly more fitted tees and different necklines but this is certainly a winner in the relaxed style category. I think a number of these made up in lightweight viscose or linen jerseys are going to be great in South Africa and the Philippines; those fabrics will feel cool against the skin and the loose fit won't cling in the heat.