Sunday, 4 April 2021

Pipe Dream Patterns, Eilidh Dress

This is my second pattern of my 2021 make 9! I feel like lockdown has really affected my sewing pace- which I originally thought was a bad thing, but has proved that more time planning while I wait for supplies to arrive etc has really allowed me to think things through and give me time to better plan projects.

When my fabric arrived my pattern was traced, I'd perused the instructions, I'd assembled the mini version of the dress inculded in the pattern so I could envision the twist. I opted for the high back version as I thought fitting would be easier (no sliding shoulders!) and it would be wearable for more occasions. The feeling of being prepared is SO blissful! I hadn't made a toile of this pattern due to my stash being short on stretch fabrics, but I'd ordered enough of this burgundy rib knit to cut out more than one attempt if I needed.

Being so prepared gave me the freedom to be a bit more playful and less time conscoius when making adjustments. The main pattern change I made was adjusting the shoulders. The big issue from start to finish was that the fabric is SO stretchy, the front twist really weighed down the centre front. I took quite a wedge out of the front shoulders (leaving the back piece untouched) and reshaped the front armhole. I reinforced the shoulder seams with a strip of interfacting to stop them from stretchig out of shape too. Next time I will definitely shorten the bodice along the shorten/lengthen line on the pattern, but by how much is going to be really dependant on how stretchy my next fabric choice is. 
Once I was as happy as I could be with the shoulders I moved to shaping the the centre back seam. This was super satisfying - just pinning down the centreback seam, pinching in around my lower back to accentuate the curve. After pinning I chose to close up the back vent as the stretch made it quite unnecessary, and I was quite keen in my knee poking out of the front slit instead. For sturdier stretch fabrics I think the vent will look really class so looking forward to having a go at it next time.
The pattern is designed with 1cm seam allowance, which I mainly followed, but changed to 1.5cm on the sleeve seams, tapering to about 3cm at the top. I matched this at the top of the side seams, grading back out to the waist. The wonders of stretch fabrics eh!
I added a few extra stitches to the waist seam eiter side of the twist as there was a tiny flesh-flashing gap on one side! I then stitched two short sections along the centre front above and below the twist to keep myself from flashing anything else! This seam gets engulfed by the twist leaving the front section still really fluid. 
I was vey lax when it came to hemming. I'll admit I was terrified that running the rib fabric through the machine would stretch out the sleeves, even using the plastic presser foot and a stretch stitch. The pattern suggests leaving the front neck unhemmed as it just kind of rolls under itself, so I just adopted this idea and left the sleeves and bottom unhemmed.
The moment I tried this dress on (even before I'd put the sleeves in) I knew I was totally in love with it. The fit, the length, the colour, the leg and the neckline!!!! They all looked so film noir but still also really modern. Making it was realtively easy, with the biggest challenge probably being my choice of fabric - so stretchy in all directions!! This dress will definitely be my go-to with the nect stretch fabric I fall in love with ❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️

Location: Domo, Little Kelham
Currently listening to: Ant Music, Adam and The Ants

Sunday, 21 March 2021

McCalls M7472 Blouse

I had been on the look out for a shirt pattern that was distinctly different from the McCalls M7575, but without too much flouce or frill so I could still feel comfortable wearing it at work. What attacted me to the McCalls M7472 was the raglan sleeves. These instantly make the shirt different and will add an eyecatching element when using a directional fabric like stripes. 

The size 12 lined up pretty much exactly to my measurements- I think this shirt is meant to be oversized as I feel I could definitely go down a size and it would still look loose. That said though, I don't think the shirt looks too big, it has a kind of Art School vibe to it, particularly in this fabric, which I am digging.
The fabric I chose had been in my stash for over a year - I'd been put off using it on any other shirts as the dots on navy make it look VERY NHS! I didn't want to look like I was swanning around in a work uniform! Again I think the oversized-ness of the shirt comes in handy to combat this. I decided to use diamante buttons to further make this not look like a work blouse!
The pattern features a cute litte dart in the shoulder to add shaping to sleeve. I've never seen this before but I loved it. The instructions advise to cut the dart, I assume for it to lay flat but my fabric was very thin anyway and I didn't want it to fray, so I skipped this step and nothing bad happend!

Each sleeve is then all in once piece, unlike the M7575 which has an upper and under sleeve. There are 2 pleats above the cuff and a (slightly fiddly!) continuous lap is added to the sleeve opening. You have to be really precise here as after you cut the slit into the sleeve there are literally millimeters left to sew the lap onto the opening. You have to open the split out and line the stitching/reinforement line on the sleeve with the 6mm seam allowance on the lap. The cuffs are then added which is quite simple, and  then slipstiched to the inside.

As well as the cuffs, the inside of the button bands and collar stand are all slipstitched with the option of topstitching if you want to. My hand stitching is quite neat but I found this fabric was quite prone to snagged threads particularly when hand sewing. In hindsight I do wish I'd just stitched everything down from the top to avoid snags! The threads are quite delicate so there are no blindingly obvious places where the threads have pulled.

The hem is super curved then goes up to a kind of split at the side seams. I was worried this would get on my nerves when tucking into my skirt, but I love the length (I made option C). This also makes it really easy to knot-up the front when the weather gets warmer. The curved hem can be a bit tricky but I've been practicing! My tips would be use a tape measure and PRESS! And also follow the instructions when it says to sew long stitches 6mm from the edge. You can pull to help ease the in the fabric at the  curviest points and it really works.

I'm a big fan of the shape of the collar on this shirt. I think the way it kind of squares off instead of points adds to the casual art school vibe.
I chose to put the pockets on and include the flaps to further distance this shirt from the M7575 Shirt. I am looking forward to playing around with these on my next one with some contrasting fabric (maybe horizontal vs vertical stripes??). I will definitely interface both the pocket and the pocket flap next time to make them look a little sharper.
I'm really glad I discovered this pattern. There are only 11 pieces to it, where as the M7575 has 17, so felt a lot quicker to put together. There are no darts in the bodice so makes for a speedier sew. I enjoyed the different elements like the sleeve plackets and the different shaped collar.
I'm super pleased I have another shirt pattern in my aresnal now! To finish I made a thin bow using some left over fabric just to tie round the neck if I do the button up to the top. There are so many options for styling the shirt! Tucked in, tied up, loose, sleeves rolled, buttoned up, buttoned down, casual and smart! A Spring 2021 essential. 

Location: Abbeyfield Park, Sheffield
Currently listening to: Other Woman, Paloma Faith

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Tilly and The Buttons, Bertha Cardigan

Make It Simple is the third book from Tilly and the Buttons. Love At First Stitch, her first was published around the time I began sewing- with her Parisian/nautical/vintage inspired vibe, Tilly played a vital part in learning to sew for myself and many others.

Make It Simple is what it says on the box- a series of easy-to-sew patterns that shouldn't leave the maker feeling frustrated! I think it's important to instersperse easy or at he very least, less time consuming makes into the wardrobe to keep positivity and productivity high.

The Bertha Cardigan certainly comes together quickly. The blocky pattern pieces are great for well, colour blocking - the sleeves are such a big chunk of the pattern, using contrast fabrics creates a really bold visual impact.

This Art-Deco inspired Lurex textured knit fabric from Minerva is everything I hoped it would be. The black and gold gives an immediate touch of glamour and the geometic pattern reminds me of 1920s architecture. The fabric has a glorious stretch to it, and although descibed as a heavy-knit on the website, it desn't weigh the garment down at all. There is a layer on the underside so the lurex isn't itchy on the skin at all despire it's sparkles. I had orignially planned my Bertha to be in full-deco fabric, but on cutting out my pieces I found that a contrasting sleeve realllly bought this pattern to life. Sadly with the fabric shops still closed for lockdown I had to plump for some stash fabric for my sleeves, which didn't have as much stretch as I'd have liked. The lack of stretch makes the cardingan a little more jacket-y but I think that works in it's own way.

I hadn't prepared myself for how much my overlocker was going to HATE my contrast fabric though! Attaching the front band was a battle- It was way too bulky and my machine really struggled. Luckily you can't see the seam from the outside, but it's baaad! I wish I'd been more patient and ordered some black sweatshirt fabric.

To get the most out of my deco fabric I was really really careful with my cutting out. I made sure that the two front pieces were as symmetrical as possible so the pattern would match horizontally and veretically, with the precision really adding to the jazz-age architecutural forms I had in my head. I wanted the linear gold stripes to run up along the outside of the neckband, I got it bang on!

The pattern is so speedy, once I have all the right supplies I will definitely be whizzing up another one!

Location: University of Sheffield
Currently listening to: Fire, Kasabian

Sunday, 17 January 2021

McCalls M7575 Shirt

Okay so this was an obvious choice of pattern, but I wanted to chose something simple and wearbale to really showcase this beautiful fabric gifted to me from Minerva in exchange for a blog post. Easy work!

The fabric is a lightweight viscose, in my monochrome colour palette! The fabric feels quite drapey and delicate against the skin but doesn't turn into a frayed mess the moment you cut into it! I would advise using SHARP needles to avoid any snags or laddering while sewing the seams (particularly when handstitching).

The fabric is quite easy to manipulate without stretching it out of shape - so I ended up with a curved hem I was super proud of.

The randomness of the print meant that I could cut all my pieces out on the fold (yay!) without having to worry about pattern matching. This made for speedy cutting out. 
I would advise DEFINITELY pre-washing the fabric (I know there are a few inpatient stitchers out there!) as I could tell this fabric was eager to shrink when I was applying heat to fuse my interfacing to the collar and cuffs. I made a shirt in similar fabric once and that definitely shrank in the wash so I have learnt my lesson!
To jazz the shirt up a bit and add a bit of variation to such a tried and tested pattern I decided to add these cute heart-shaped buttons 😍 I thought the splash of red would look good teamed with a red skirt and accessories. I found it quite tricky stitching these button holes to fit the buttons though. Buttonholes are probably my least favourite part of making anything, especially with the added fear of the fabric laddering straight down the centre front!! My machine is pretty basic and I'm considering upgrading to something that can be more precise with buttonholes- any ideas? I think aything would be an improvement!
My fabric laddering nightmare became a reality and those annoying white lines of pulled thread appeared between my buttonholes!! SO, here is my sneaky tip...... Sharpie Marker! simply colour over the threads that have pulled. It's naughty and I recommend ALWAYS doing a tester on scrap fabric as the ink tends to have a blue-y tinge to it. Obviously this only works on black fabric and might need topping up after a few washes. Just don't tell a soul and we'll keep this one between you and me.

The shirt is cute and totally wearable for work. I maybe struggled again matcing the right weight of interfacing to the fabric for the button band. Too heavy and the band sticks up and feels a bit cardboardy, too light and the band can distort and go wobbly! I cut out the interfacing without the seam allowances to try and avoid unnecessary bulk, with the intenetion of this also making sewing the button holes a little easier too. 

Big thanks to Minerva for the fabric! It's very "Me" and I can't wait to wear this shirt to work!
Check out my Minerva profile on their sassy new interactive website:


Location: Livesey Street, Hillsborough/Luke's Place, Infirmary Road
Currently listening to: Bug A Boo, Destiny's Child