A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: fabric

I really struggled when it came to what I wanted to wear to this wedding. I have a couple of beautiful silk dresses that I have worn to other friends’ weddings, but this is a younger wedding and I wanted to wear something a bit more fun. I was also keen to make something. I had planned to make my Liberty Macaron, but I went off that idea quite quickly after finishing the toile. Even though most of my clothes are quite quirky, when it comes to lines, I like classic simplicity. Somehow a sweetheart neckline didn’t feel right.

I spotted some beautiful viscose on Fabric Godmother, featuring a cute cocktail print, and thought it would make a great maxi Southport. I vacillated about whether and how much to get, and in the end it sold out before I could buy any. I was sad about that, but the fabric was cream and I was definitely uncertain about wearing a full-length white dress to someone else’s wedding. After some more looking around, I came across this rocket-print fabric that I had spotted on Fabric Godmother before. Soon, two metres were winging their way to me.

I am slightly worried that I am insane. My previous attempt at working with silk was an absolute disaster. I have also never worked with a sheer fabric. I have less than two weeks to learn a lot of new skills, and any mistakes will mean ruining the costly fabric.

I’m also worried the dress won’t turn out the way it looks in my head. The fabric is darkest navy and I’m just not sure the whole thing will work.

Planned changes

  • Eliminate button band again
  • Cut back bodice neckline to match front bodice neckline (perhaps even an inch deeper) to give a dressier effect
  • Fully line bodice. I still haven’t fully decided whether I will be underlining or lining. At the moment, I’m thinking underlining because I don’t want the seams to be visible through the sheer fabric. But then how will I finish the neckline and armholes? Will the bias binding finish work through two layers? This is so complicated! I need to keep reading up on this. Current plan is to underline and use bias binding to finish.
  • Add modesty lining to the upper part of the skirt
  • Eliminate pockets. These are two words I thought I would never type, but I don’t think they are a good idea in such a light fabric. Also, because the dress is sheer, you would be able to see the contents. Also also, the Southport directions don’t seem indicate to finish the side seams, and I need French seams to finish the silk voile. Update: I just didn’t see the instruction to finish the side seams when I made my my previous Southport. Comment about French seams still stands.
  • Remove 2cm length in a curve on the back bodice. Add scant 1cm length in a curve on the front bodice. Really, I probably need to do an FBA, but that’s for another time.

So far the cutting has gone okay. 2m was only just enough to squeak out this dress. If you are using a directional print or making a size bigger than about a 4, you will definitely need more. I also cut the selvedges as part of the pieces for the skirt front as I had practiced a seam finish that incorporates them.

The underlining was pretty fiddly. The silk is actually okay to work with as it is textured. The viscose is more tricky, being drapey. It just takes lots of time to smooth etc. I hand-basted the front and back pieces.


I found the bias binding finish even more annoying the second time! It’s just really fiddly. Not helped by using satin binding, but I thought that would be better suited to my fabric. Even more infuriatingly, the neckline doesn’t really sit flat. Pressing helped a bit. Maybe it’s because I didn’t clip the seam allowances.

Fortunately I took a break after writing the above paragraph. Things seemed less negative when I came back to the bodice, and the bias binding one the armholes went much better.

I’ve got to say I’ve enjoyed learning and trying out some tailoring techniques on this dress. I’m cautiously optimistic about the result.

Notes:

  • Adding length to the bodice in a curve also adds width to the pattern piece! I nearly got in trouble because the waist sections of my bodice and skirt weren’t the same length when I came to join them

Fabric: 2m silk voile, 1.5m viscose for lining

Pattern: Southport dress (maxi version)


I finished a very quick sew this week- the Lark t-shirt by the Grainline Studio.

I’ve written a tutorial for Minerva Crafts that takes you through how to sew your first t-shirt. I think this is a great pattern for a foray into sewing with jersey.

Some notes for next time:

  • Be more careful with notching- the seam allowances are tiny, presumably this pattern is intended more for an overlocker
  • Removing 3″ from the body gave me a tee that hits right on the hip
  • Overall the size 8 fits me just as well as any RTW shirt. It would take a lot of wizardry (i.e. FBA and moving between sizes) to improve the fit, and I don’t think it would make enough of a difference to be worth it. I’m happy.
  • 1m of fabric is plenty for a short-sleeved version

Pattern: Lark by the Grainline Studio

Fabric: 1m of cotton jersey


I finally finished sewing the Sew Over It pencil skirt that I started over two years ago. I feel that my tastes have evolved even in the past couple of years, so I’m not sure how much wear this garment will get. I suppose this is why most people don’t leave things on the WiP pile for several years! Maybe it will just have a token appearance during Me Made May.

I was highly apprehensive about making the size 12 as the measurement chart indicated I should cut a 14. However, I have found the sizing and charts off for pretty much every SOI garment I have made, so I went with my gut instinct and I think the 12 is the correct size for me.


It’s good to know how this pattern looks in the flesh, so to speak. I think it’s a good standard pencil skirt. I would only make this pattern again using quite a structured fabric, as I think anything drapey would cause the skirt to hug my lumps and bumps.

I’m already considering my second pencil skirt, for which I’m eyeing the lovely piece of thick, textured fabric I snapped up in the Sew Over It remnant sale. Aside from being irritated with myself for apparently losing the front and back skirt pieces that I so painstakingly taped together, I am aware that I already own a pencil skirt that is perfect.

It’s this beautifully tailored navy skirt that I picked up in a charity shop a few years ago.

Sew Over It ultimate shirt vintage wrangler denim

It’s a bit difficult to see the skirt as I was actually photographing the shirt, but there’s definitely a reason that I’ve worn this skirt almost to death. It hugs my waist without being tight or constricting in any way. It skims over my hips in exactly the way that I like. It’s fantastically comfortable in pretty much all seasons. When I got it, it had already been loved by the previous owner and now the fabric is getting shiny, there is a flaw in the zip, and the kick pleat flaps around sadly.

I wonder if I have the skill to adapt the ultimate pencil skirt to become my ultimate pencil skirt? Have any readers had any experience of making significant adaptations to patterns as a relatively novice sewist?

Pattern: Ultimate pencil skirt by Sew Over It

Fabric: I think it was called Joseph Rainbow Boucle, from SOI. Pretty sure I used around a metre.


I’ve been seeing quite a few Cleo dungaree dresses (pattern by Tilly & the Buttons) on soc meeds since the pattern was released. At first, I wasn’t sure about the whole dungaree dress thing (despite the obsession I developed over the Lazy Oaf Catafore, which led me to create my Cateralls). But, as often happens, the more I saw, the more I liked and I have now jumped firmly onto the bandwagon.

I decided to make the patch pockets out of plain black needlecord to break up the pattern a bit. Even though I think the mushrooms are adorable, they are very bold. I ordered the plain black needlecord online, and was disappointed to find that it is less black than the background of the mushroom cord. However, I couldn’t find any needlecord IRL in west London, so I will be proceeding nonetheless.


This is how the two cords look together. I love the way the black creates an effect of negative space on the print.

I dithered for a while over whether to cut  a size 3 or 4. According to the measurements given, the 3 could potentially be on the small side. However, a lot of the Cleos I’ve seen online look like they err on the large side, and I mostly wear a 10 in RTW clothing. So I decided to go for the 3.

Due to the crazy fabric plus my laziness, I will not be doing the front and back seams on the dress pieces. You can just about see in the pic below that I marked off 1.5cm from the centre of the front and back pattern pieces to account for the seam allowance.

I was hoping to gain access to an overlocker for an hour or so to finish the edges of the pieces before I proceed. In the end, I used my trusty overcasting foot.

I also considered adding in-seam pockets to this dress, but no one else seems to have done this, and I  was  concerned there was a reason not to. In the end, I couldn’t be bothered but it may be something I consider if I make another version of this dress.


Even though it’s still not finished, I decided to make something to go with my floral Ultimate Shirt. Julie, the instructor, made a throwaway comment about getting a pink skirt in the final class, which I initially dismissed because I don’t really wear pink. I just don’t think it suits me as well as other colours. However, the idea must have lodged somewhere as I found myself thinking more and more about a skirt project.

At first, I planned to finally tackle the pencil skirt. I should probably finish the Sew Over It pencil skirt that’s been languishing in my WiP pile for well over a year, but I’ve really lost my motivation on that project. I remembered seeing the Tulip Skirt in a sewing magazine a while ago and falling in love instantly.

The best thing about this skirt? POCKETS, BABY! Since SOI recently launched a PDF pattern, I decided to ignore my hatred of printing my own patterns and go for it.

I have a couple of wool skirts in my wardrobe that are incredibly useful workhorse garments; sturdy, smart-looking and easy to wear. My favourite navy skirt is a charity shop find that is starting to look a bit shiny, and the zip has a weak point in it that scares me every time I do it up. I’m hoping to create a garment to stand the test of time just like the navy one, so I decided to invest in some quality wool crepe for my new skirt.

Goldbrick Fabrics has become my favourite shop on the Goldhawk Road as I find the staff in there friendlier than most of the other shops. Fortunately they had some beautiful (though pricey) wools.

I wasn’t really intending on making such a statement garment, but the two colours that caught my eye, and that I thought would work with the ultimate shirt, were the two brightest. I decided to be bold and plumped for the hot pink.

Putting together the printed pattern wasn’t quite as horrifying as I remembered from the one other time I did it, though it still took well over an hour.

My beloved navy skirt has a 30″ waist so I decided to cut a size 12. After reading lots of conflicting advice about preparing wool, I decided to ignore all of it and hope the fabric was preshrunk. Real talk: I don’t wash my wool skirts that often anyway.

I did spend some time ironing a swatch of fabric to see if there would be any shrinkage. I used my new silk organza pressing cloth as I don’t want to risk scorching the fabric.

One thing that bothered me was the fabric recommendation given on the pattern, which clearly states that all sizes need 1.8m of fabric. My pieces only needed 1.1m. Actually I just measured and it turns out that my fabric is 1.56 metres wide, which is a non-standard width. Something to look out for in future.

Since decent wool crepe is over £20/metre, that’s kind of a big deal. I doubt I need two fuchsia skirts in my wardrobe, so I’m not sure what I’ll do with the leftover, which is about 0.8m.

Cutting out seemed to go fine, and I prepared the pleats on the front of the skirt and darts on the back. The next step was finishing the raw edges. I was concerned about this because I don’t have an overlocker (I wish I did!) and a previous attempt at zigzagging looked rubbish. However, the crepe frays quite a bit and I don’t think I’ll get a chance to pop to a sewing cafe any time soon.

Fortunately I found this very helpful tutorial on zigzagging by Tilly and the Buttons. She mentions using a special overcasting foot, and when I checked the accessories that came with my beloved Janome, there was one in there! Double zigzagging all of the edges took FOREVER but it looks okay, and I hope it will prevent my edges from fraying. It also used up two full (small) spools of thread and bobbins. I need to remember to buy matching thread for future projects.

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be a sewing project of mine without at least one really stupid error. This time, when I was pinning the side seams of the skirt together, I noticed that one side was a lot longer than the other. Turns out that I managed to cut the pattern for the long version of the front of the skirt (the version I wanted to make), but the short version for the back pieces. What the hell is wrong with me?

Although I had enough fabric to cut out new back pieces, the idea of doing the darts and zigzagging again was too much. I held the pieces up to my body and, actually, I think that if I do a slightly narrower hem, the shorter skirt should still hit around my knee, which is the length I want. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed!


I’m a bit sad to say there’s still a lot of work to do on my ultimate shirt after a couple of hours of homework plus my final three hour class at Sew Over It.


I’m happy with how the hand-stitching inside my collar turned out so I’m going to do the same on the cuffs. It’s painstaking work.

As well as attaching one cuff and finishing both, I have all of my buttons to do (having not sewn a buttonhole in years, if ever) plus the hem, which I’m very worried about. I failed twice at hemming my turquoise shirt and I still haven’t finished it.

I know I need to put the time in on this project soon, otherwise it will just languish half made in my pile of unfinished things. However, with the schools starting back next week and a few things on the cards, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to put in the hard graft in front of the sewing machine.


I was feeling pretty unwell yesterday but managed to drag myself to my second sewing workshop at Sew Over It.

Forgot to take many pictures, but got a lot of work on the body done, including front and back darts. So far the fit is looking pretty good.

The most tense moment was attaching my collar to the shirt. It worked out, fortunately. I have some hand-stitching to do as my homework- you can probably see that the inside of the collar is unfinished.

Need to pick up some buttons during the week. Looking forward to finishing!