Biscayne blouse with sleeves

29 Oct

The biscayne blouse really has become my favuorite pattern – I have five of them now. But I knew that I’d need to add some sleeves  to turn in into a year round type of pattern. But I wasn’t sure exactly what type of sleeve. I knew what I didn’t want – nothing too big or anything with a serious cuff. I wanted something that would match the simple style of the blouse.

So when Colette released the Claudette pattern and I saw the  design of long fitted sleeves with a continuous lap placket and cuff  I knew I had found exactly what I wanted. I must admit to being rather indifferent to the rest of the dress pattern, but it was on sale  and exactly what I was looking for, so buying the PDF for $11 seemed reasonable enough.

The blouse itself came together easily enough and I’m particularly happy with my welt pocket – it’s my most accurate one yet! The only thing that slightly bugs me, is that I didn’t have any lightweight/fine interfacing and what I did have turned out to a little too heavy so the button placket is sticker than I’d have liked.

The sleeves worked out pretty good (I made size 8) which had 10 cm extra around the armhole so required a bit of gathering. Next time I think I’ll reduce the curve so there won’t be such an obvious gathering. I really like the narrow cuff band, but I’m not terribly impressed with the method for completing the sleeve placket. Obviously I’m not familiar with this method and I could do with some practice but the end results don’t seem too polished. That being said I plan to make myself a lot more of these!


A cosy new shirt

19 Oct

A few weeks ago I made several muslin of Burda 7136 in my first proper attempt at a full bust adjustment. After four attempts I got what I thought was just the right fit: grading between size 10 for the shoulders down to 12 for the waist – plus 1.5″ FBA. And so last weekend I started on my newest shirt.

I bought this brushed cotton from RayStitch two years ago as in the winter there is nothing I love more than a cosy shirt and my timing this year is perfect!  And I got the 8 buttons at a shop in Edinburgh last year when visiting my BFF. But alas when I was buying the buttons I didn’t know what pattern I’d use and for this one each sleeve would require a whopping 6 buttons!  So I’ve forgone the top button at the front (I never do shirts up all the way anyway) and only use one button on the cuff. Note to self: don’t skip the extra buttons on the cuff and sleeve vent as it does gape a wee bit

The results I have to say are pretty bloody good. I am so pleased with how it fits – shoulders, chest and stomach. The arms are a bit long in length (but I like that especially in winter) but they feel a bit big across my forearms so I’ll probably take them down a size next time. I’m ready for winter (and more bright plaids).


Pajamas sewn with love

14 Oct

Someone close and special to me is spending a lot of time in the hospital at the moment. Seeing as she’s stuck in her pajamas for the whole time, I figured it was important that she had some fashionable and comfortable pajamas. Plus its as close to a hug as it possible when we’re in London and she’s not.

While as surprise is always fun, I figured  I’d best get her input into what design she wanted: short sleeve, high round neck, descent hem length, something out of a stretch jersey, and bottoms with an elasticated waist. After a little searching I found just the pattern: Kwik Sew K3144 (version B with short sleeves).

As soon as I had the pattern I knew the exact fabric I wanted to use:  Art Gallery – Nightfall Moon Stories Spark Knit which I got from Dragonfly Fabrics. I love the print and I hope she will to (I decided even if the pajamas themselves weren’t a surprise, at least the fabric will be). I really wanted good quality fabric which wouldn’t loose its shape after one night. And I’m pretty pleased with this jersey – it feels just lovely.

Size wise I made the top a medium and the bottoms a large – there’s nothing worse than being constricted by your pajamas especially when they’re all you’re wearing. The pattern and instructions are pretty darn easy and straightforward. And I finished then in under a day. Ideally I would have added a few nice finishing touches, but they need to be ready to go today, so I followed the pattern exactly as instructed.

Muslin of burda 7136 – FBA

8 Oct

Seeing as the fabric for my next, and very special, project hadn’t arrived in time for the weekend, I decided to work on a full bust adjustment. I made a short sleeve version of Burda 7136 (size 14) a few months ago, in a really fun print. While I love it, the fit wasn’t perfect and I had to take in the back quite a bit. I figured that if I made size 10 and did a full bust adjustment it might just fit perfectly.

And so I have spent the weekend making muslins and testing my theory out. First I made a mock up of size 10 out of this garish fabric I won in a bundle of fabric.  It’s been sitting unused for 2 years now, and while I intended to give it away to someone that might actually like it, it works perfectly for a muslin of the shirt (minus sleeves of course).  And lucky I did! Size 10 worked perfectly for the upper bust and across the back yoke. But was too tight across my belly and hips. So I decided to do the full bust adjustment on a  merged 10/12.

There are tons of tutorials online for full bust adjustment but I’ve found most of them are aimed at bodices for high waited dresses (which means there is a much shorter side seam to correct). In the end I found this tutorial of Melly Sews to be most helpful. I figured I would add 1.5″ per side and it was initially quite fun drawing and cutting, moving and taping my pieces around. But once that was all done, I still struggled to redraw the side seams. But in the end I think I got a really nice curve.

So I sewed up my second muslin. Perfect fit  on upper and full bust but the bust dart wasn’t quite in the right place – a wee bit too low and too long (leading to pointy nipples). So I re-positioned it up 1/2″ and reduced its length by 1″. Instead of redoing the whole front pieces, I just unpicked part of the side seams and redid the darts. And no, still not in the right place.

At this point I retraced the original pattern piece and started again, but this time with the dart re-positioned in the correct place. And the result, my third muslin, appeared to be just right! Phew. One weekend down and three muslin and four attempted full bust adjustments  later and at last I have my pattern pieces all ready to cut out my nice fabric (and not this atrocious stuff).

My newest pair of Ginger Jeans

7 Oct

If you read my post a few weeks ago about selecting the right denim for ginger jeans, you’ll know that I’ve been agonizing over the right amount of stretch and size for quite a while. In the end, the denim I chose has about 12% stretch  and I made a size 10. Now that they are all done and dusted I can see that with that amount of stretch I really should have made size 8. I find it a little frustrating that my first 3 pairs fit perfectly (by shear luck I realize now). But the lesson is learned – I think it the fabric has 10% or more stretch I should use size 8 and if less, size 10. Still, they are quite comfortable and not too shabby, better a bit big than too small as my last pair was.

This version has the skinny legs combined with the low waist – and with this extra stretchy fabric, they feel and look great (in pictures they look black, but they are actually a dark blue). As these are the fifth pair I’ve made, there’s not much to say about the construction or pattern, except that I love the design, the instructions and the end results (despite being slightly too big).

For the pockets and waistband facing I’ve used the scraps left over from one of my favourite summer dresses (Simplicity 2363 in a lovely cotton lawn I got at Raystitch years ago). Plus I used hot pink thread on all the insides, so should I ever decide to wear them inside out, my seams are ready!


I always struggle to get the tension right with top stitching. But this time I found the optimal stitch was 3.75 stitch length and tension set to 8 (normally its set on 5). Also I worked out that whenever I start a line of topstiching, it is best to hold the thread taunt before it catches, that way I can avoid it getting tangled at the start of any row of stitching.  The results are pretty damn good, even if I do say so myself.

I have two more pieces of denim from Ditto – one in dark charcoal for a high waisted, skinny leg Version B and one in a indigo for a low waist, straight leg Version A.  Slowly but surely I am replacing all RTW clothes (as they wear out of course). As both are very stretch I think I’ll be making size 8.

Great British Sewing Bee – Live!

24 Sep

Yesterday I went to the Great British Sewing Bee Live and it was so inspirational. My mind is bustling with ideas, plans, things I want to learn and of course the new (better fitting) wardrobe I will have at the end!

IMG_20170923_172907_497To start with in the morning I went to a workshop with Jane on ‘weaving  bit of couture magic into your sewing’. I learned some useful tricks such as sewing (and cutting)  extra fine fabrics, such as silk Georgette with tissue paper and how to tailor tack. But most exciting was a technique for hemming linings – which uses lace. Its much less time consuming and looks so pretty.

There was also a few exhibitions including Liberty in Fashion and the ‘Best of the Sewing Bee Gallery’.

And of course I bought some fabric. That might be the understatement of the year. I bought A LOT of fabric.

I won’t say too much about them now but let’s just say I found the crack cocaine of fabric. Cashmire/Silk anyone? Many of these will become blouses or dresses for winter, and I have a few patterns in mind –  I cant wait to get to work. Also I feel pretty guilt free as I left a pile of fabrics and patterns at the swap meet on the Fold Line’s stall!




Choosing the right denim for my ginger jeans

22 Sep

I made myself three pairs of Ginger Jeans which fit perfectly (vs 1, 2&3), but my fourth pair were ridiculously too small; which left me puzzled. Aside from the obvious possibility that I’d gone up a size (which as far as I was aware I hadn’t), it had the same amount of elastine as previous versions (3%). But while other versions were 97% cotton, the last pair had some polyester too…

But here’s something I hadn’t thought about – different denim can have a remarkably different stretch even though the composition is the same. It wasn’t until I was on Ditto’s website pursuing the denim that I noticed this. For example three denims I was looking at were all  a 87%/3% composition – but the stretch they listed varied from 8% – 18%! Though if I’d only paid a bit more attention to Closet Case’s sew-along I would have realized this. But not all websites list the approximate stretch  and in the shop I’m not great at working this out for myself. Luckily, Ditto had more than enough denims which I was desperate for.

I started off by ordering seven samples, which allowed me to narrow it down to three:  a dark navy , a dark charcoal (approx 18% stretch) and a darkest of blue . Unfortunately I forgot to note down the approximate stretch of two of the fabrics which is seriously annoying but I’m pretty sure were around 10%.

My fabric arrived in the post the next day (Ditto’s amazingly quick in posting orders)  but since I got them I’ve procrastinated, not being able to decide which size to choose.  All four previous times, I’ve made size 8. But after the last pair I resolved to go up at least one size. However on the sew along section on sourcing denim it notes that you may want to adjust your size if you’re using something with more or less stretch. In the end I’ve decided to try size 10 cause I really want to feel comfortable and good in them. Fingers crossed and stay tuned to find out if this was the right decision.


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