Steph’s Peasant dress

Steph shares with us her peasant dress project and why it's so important to her...

Over the last few years I have developed more of an affinity for trousers or leggings than dresses, largely due to my changing body shape, but the need for abdominal surgery very soon has made me realise i need more dresses in my life…

 

 

After years of pain and hideous symptoms I was recently diagnosed with Endometriosis of the womb and bowel, and at the end of July I will be having major surgery to remove my womb, ovaries and a small portion of my bowel. This means a lot of resting, recovering, and – much to my horror – no jeans or leggings for several weeks as they’ll rub on my scars and stitches. 

Now don’t get me wrong – i love dresses. Just not on me. I’m short and dumpy, and incredibly conscious of my legs and stomach, and there are only a few styles of dress that really suit me. A dress shopping trip left me feeling anxious, frumpy and deeply uncomfortable, so I knew the only way to solve this was with something me-made.

As I was glancing through Samantha Claridge Studio’s incredible array of fabrics (which is very much a regular pastime, even when I dont have a project in mind!) a beautiful pale blue viscose with a pink and white floral print caught my eye and I knew that it would be absolutely perfect for something light and floaty. I have always loved peasant dresses and tops, and they fit the bill for what I’d need post-surgery: empire line, nice and loose, and should be cool and comfortable in the summer heat.

Peasant dresses are actually fairly simple to make without a premade pattern, and i have seen many really lovely ones that are actually just made from 4 rectangles (2 large ones for the back and front, and 2 smaller ones for the sleeves). The magic ingredient to this dress is in fact basic elastic.

I used just plain white narrow elastic in the neckline and under the bust to draw in all the excess fabric and create a nice silhouette. I also added a bit of elastic in the sleeves to make them a little puffier at the top. The end result was the first dress I have actually loved and felt utterly comfortable wearing in YEARS. The fabric is so soft and feminine, and the big floaty sleeves give the dress that little bit extra drama. I loved it so much I even wore it to a friends wedding and I was very proud when people asked me where i got such a beautiful dress that i was able to say ‘I made it myself’.

Whilst this dress started out as a need for a post-surgery outfit, I think it will become a wardrobe staple of mine for quite some time to come. Who knows – maybe this might just be the start of a new love for wearing dresses. 

It’s a wrap!

Romy shares her gorgeous jersey dress project...

 
 
 
 
Hello again! I can’t believe we’re already at the Beginning of August! It doesn’t seem five minutes since I was trying to pick my project for May!  
 
 

 

 

 

As soon as I saw this fabric on Instagram, I knew I had to have some…

I loved the striking print with the beautiful flowers and bees (very on trend at the moment, it seems!) and thought it would work well with a pattern I recently decided I had to have, the Kielo Wrap Dress by Named Clothing (pictured on the left). This is one of those patterns that I’ve been seeing around blogs and Instagram for ages but haven’t really fancied making until recently. I thought that it wouldn’t suit my shape, but after seeing lots of examples on lots of body types, I realised that it’s a great one for curvy bodies as the waist tie enables you to decide how loose or fitted you want it.

So the fabric arrived and I definitely was not disappointed. It is stunning. And once again I forgot to get any pictures of the lovely parcel before it went in the wash and was then cut out. The fabric washed really nicely with no fading, and the print is nice and big so the details really stand out. I didn’t attempt to pattern match and as long as you don’t have a lot of seams or panels I don’t think you need to worry about it. The Kielo is great because it gives you a big expanse of fabric to show off large prints.
 
When cutting out I did check where the pieces were on the fabric to make I didn’t have any unfortunate print placement (I’ve made the mistake of beheading animals on fabric before now!) and am pleased with how it came out. The fabric is a lovely, medium weight jersey – not too drapey or too stiff, though it did make for a more structured Kielo than if you used a very draped jersey, but I liked how it turned out.
Sewing the fabric was a breeze. I used my overlocker for most of it, only using my sewing machine to twin needle the neck and hems. I didn’t interface the waist ties as the pattern calls for as it’s a thicker jersey, and I think it turned out ok, though you would definitely want to use interfacing on a lighter fabric. I did use the flexible seam tape to stabilise the neck and stop it stretching, although once you’ve ironed it on it has no stretch at all, so bear that in mind if you want that area on your garment to still have a bit of give. I had intended to cut the neck narrower than the pattern as I have quite narrow shoulders, but I forgot. It is a bit too wide and tends to gape so I might see if I can add a bra strap holder to keep the neckband sitting where I want it to. Next time I might try adding a neckband too to stop any gaping.
 
 

I decided to make the sleeved version of the Kielo which comes as a free add-on, as I wanted a more formal look. The pattern and tutorial on their website is pretty easy to follow, though next time I might try to use another top pattern that I know fits me well, just so I can avoid the wide neck problem again. I also shortened the dress as I thought this fabric might be too heavy for a maxi. I made a bit of a hash of shortening it so the hem is a bit wonky, but if you just cut straight across at the length you want that should work fine, I just overcomplicated things!

I was in love with my dress as soon as I tried it on, and wore it two days later to a job interview, which tells you how much I liked it! Sorry I don’t have more pictures; my phone helpfully deleted half the ones I took during an update so this is all I have, but you can see how gorgeous the fabric is which is the most important thing.
 
So that’s my second project finished, and onto the next! I’m hoping to try another pattern that’s new in my stash so watch this space!

Jersey Jumpsuit of dreams!

Rachel's jersey jumpsuit

 
For this project I chose this amazing organic cotton jersey in navy and orange from the Samantha Claridge Studio shop, as soon as I saw this fabric I knew immediately it would make an amazing jumpsuit. 
Through the #sewtogetherforsummer challenge I bagged myself a cheeky little discount off the Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit and decided these two were perfect together.
 
 
This jumpsuit has 2 versions, I decided to make the v neck version with the tie straps across the back. It has an elastic waist and hip pockets and a lovely wide leg which make these super comfy and flattering.  The bodice is fully lined and as I’m tall, I needed to lengthen both the bodice and the trousers, this is a normal adjustment for me with most patterns, this meant eeking out the pattern out of my 2.5m of fabric was a bit of a challenge but I got there! 
This beautiful fabric is incredibly soft and easy to handle and would be ideal for an adventurous beginner who wants to venture into the world of stretch fabrics. 
 
 
 

This is only the second Closet Case Pattern I have made and the instructions were super easy to follow, there is an interesting technique to create the lining for this bodice which I haven’t come across before but it works so well and gives you a bodice that feels so well constructed and supportive. I love how it looks, but think it would look great paired with a belt swell if you want to look a little more glam.

I am absolutely delighted with the result and can’t wait for more sunny days to be here so I can wear it!

Savannah Shirt

@chatterstitch shares her favourite shirt...

 
 
Hi There!
It’s Carol here, aka @Chatterstitch and I really need to tell you, all about my latest make for the Samantha Claridge Design Team!

Why? do I hear you say? Because, I absolutely love it. I requested some of this fabulous Lilac tram stripe cotton to make a Wardrobe By Me, Savannah shirt. The styling of this is so great, very classic and simple but also feminine. It’s a collarless button-down shirt with long sleeves and button cuffs.

I am really enjoying working with natural fibres at the moment especially in this lovely warm weather we are experiencing, well I suppose it is July!

So, this lovely white cotton with its strong lilac stripes was just perfect!

When my fabric first arrived, I machine washed at 40 and then line dried. It washed and pressed like a dream, just as expected from a quality cotton. 

 

What really attracted me to this fabric was the lovely tram stripe and the possibilities it gave me to play around with the stripe direction. The yolk on the savannah pattern is cut on the fold but I really wanted to have the stripes form chevrons at the centre back of the yolk, so I added an extra 1.5cm seam allowance to each centre back seam and cut the yolk as two separate halves. I used my quilting ruler to cut the first half at an angle of 45 degrees and then laid that half over the fabric so I could match the pattern for the other half of the yolk. I think it worked really well but that actually created a different challenge! 

The neck band is cut on the bias, to allow the stretch and curve around the neck, this allows the neckband to lie nice and flat. But, I realised if I cut the neckband as one continuous strip, from the front the diagonal stripe would appear to run in opposite directions, so I decided to also cut the neck band in two sections and then have those chevrons running opposite to the yolk! Yes, I know I just can’t resist the challenge!

I do think however this is one of the main reasons why I have to make my own clothes, I hate seeing people wearing stripes which don’t match or clothes which don’t fit!

I’ve really wanted to try out making my own buttons for such a long time and when I got the opportunity to make some to match my shirt, I just had to try them out. I chose the 11mm plastic ones which come as a six pack.

 

They are so easy to use, you cut a little disk of fabric slightly larger than the front then run a line of gathering stitches around the perimeter. Then pull up the gathers and knot the ends. Once its secure just pop on the little disc which holds it all in place. Et Voila!! 

 

I will definitely use these again and they come in 5 different sizes from 11mm to 38 mm in the nylon (which I used) and also metal ones which come in the same sizes. I’m not exactly sure why you would choose the metal ones over the nylon but on the website the metal ones are recommended for medium weight fabrics, so perhaps with a heavier fabric the metal ones are a bit stronger.

I really like this fabric and I love my new shirt; however, I think the fabric would also make a fabulous top or a shirt dress and there are some great ones around right now!

What would you make?

That’s all from me for now thanks for reading my little post and until next time keep chatting and stitching!

@chatterstitch

Faux jumpsuit!


Kathrine shares her jumpsuit plans

 
 
This summer, jumpsuits seem to be everywhere both ready to wear versions and sewing patterns are all over social media. Last summer I failed with a couple of versions, so I decided for my June #scdesignteam project to try a faux jumpsuit consisting of a top and matching trousers. 

 

 

For the top I decided to use New Look 6464 and for the trousers my old trusty New Look 6160. I had seen a blue stripe ready to wear jumpsuit on the high street, so I was thrilled to find the perfect blue stripe fabric in the Samantha Claridge Studio shop. 

 

 

 

 

I decided to cut the top on the bias so that I could have a chevron design with the stripes, this required some careful stripe matching, lots of pins and tacking.

 

 

 

I was struggling to get a neat hem around the curve of the neckline, so I dug in my stash and came up with this floral bias binding-I do like those pretty hidden details.

The pattern called for a ribbon fastening but instead I decided to make a fastening from the fabric. The photo here shows my first try on, there were a few alterations to come. I liked the fit and shape at the front but despite having made a toile in a different fabric which seemed ok I wasn’t happy with the back. I think the bias cut was to blame, I had a lot of excess fabric across the top of the back and it stuck out and didn’t give a flattering shape. I put it on Madeline (my tailors dummy or body double as my OH calls her!) but then resorted to putting it on and giving my OH the pins. He then videoed it for me and kept pinning until I was happy, these OHs can be useful.

 

The trousers were simpler as it’s a pattern I’ve made many times. The only change was that I had planned full length trousers but when I tried them on I wasn’t sure. I pinned one leg to a cropped length and was deliberating in front of the mirror when my 20-year-old son appeared. His definite verdict was cropped was better and more trendy-20-year-old students can be useful too! I think I wish I’d cut the pockets on the bias too to tie in with the top, but I’d already finished when I had that thought. Look at the stripe matching too, you almost don’t know they’re there.

So, the finished garments……… they don’t do what I want them to do which is look like a jumpsuit. Apparently as I’ve learned from another 20-year-old co-ords are very fashionable, to me they’re just too matchy, matchy. However, I’ve worn the top with plain linen trousers and the trousers with a plain white top and I like them both-just no jumpsuit yet!

Sustainable kitchen roll!


Plastic free July ideas!

 
 
 
After starting plastic free July I realised my house has a serious disinfectant wipe habit! We use them for loads of things around the house and having dog’s means there is always a mess somewhere to clear up! I started to think of a way around this and came up with reusable kitchen roll!

I used a meter and a half of cotton and a meter of towelling from Samantha Claridge Studio. The towelling is the softest thing ever, I’m sure it’s softer than my bath towels! It would be perfect for baby bibs and such things as it would be lovely and soft near their skin. Below is how I made it, its super easy and hopefully something you’d like to do too.

1.     First thing I did was a little maths. I measured my current kitchen roll and each piece was 8” square. This seemed like a good size for me and the fabric was 55” wide which meant I got just under 7 sets. I just made the last one ¼ of an inch smaller but you wouldn’t notice on the roll.

2.     I then cut the cotton and the towelling into 8” squares.

3.     Once cut I paired them up with one of each and stitched a diagonal across the middle of each square keeping the two pieces together.

4.     Then I overlocked around the edge of each piece.

This could be your finishing point but I wanted mine to go on the roll like kitchen roll does.

 

  1. I then attached the prim poppers to each side so I could attach them on the roll. You need to attach them as you go along to make sure you alternate the way the poppers are attached or you won’t get the cotton all facing the same way. I have a feeling once I have washed this my husband won’t sit and re-popper them so will end up using the basket for clean ones too! Watch this space…

I also made a little box for the dirty ones to go in once they are used so that I can wash them all together. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube on how to make a fabric basket, I switched mine from wadding to stiff interfacing which made the side of the basket more box like which I thought would be perfect for throwing all my cloths into.

Hopefully this will reduce our need for more plastic around the kitchen but definitely perfect for spills and mopping up as the towels are super absorbent!

Summer Time Separates

@missmaker shows us her summer wardrobe staples!

 
 
You may recognise this georgeous fabric from my previous project, this soft drapy cotton viscose from www.samanthaclaridgestudio.com was too beautiful! I just couldn’t tuck it away as a coat lining so I used a small amount for the yoke of the Jade jacket lining and saved the rest for a rather more summery project…

My basic idea was to cut a half circle skirt so the grain of the skirt would run across the bias and drape beautifully with lots of movement. I wanted a full length skirt so measure from my waist to floor then added 4cm to play with. My hip measurement divided by Pi (3.14 – back to school days!) gave me the diameter circle I would need, and as I wanted a half circle I used that as the radius for the waistline instead. To make the very most of the fabric I had to then spread this half circle to give me a slightly flatter curve

I also had some fantastic pale grey cuffing with a coral, pink and white stripe (also available at Sew Crafty) which I though would work perfectly as a comfy waistband, I joined the back seam and sewed the cuffing to the top, marking quarters and stretching the cuffng between to give me a stretchy waistband that still sat beautifully flat with subtle gathers when topstitched with a small zigzag.

A small rolled hem was all that was then needed to complete the skirt, so quick and easy I can see a couple more of these being whizzed up before summer is out!

Then is was on to the top half. I have a New Look pattern (6095) that I have made about 10 different variations of so far.

The fit is fab and actually works perfectly without the zip in the back so I’ve taken to cutting the back as one piece for relaxed fit versions.

I wanted two separate items that came together beautifully as one when needed to, s, once I had the basic shape together I popped it on my dress form with the skirt and thought about the proprtions of the neckline and how bind and finish it.

I opted for a sleaveless look with simple fold over binding, a laced front created using a rectangular facing turned to the outside, topstitched and used button holes with a long rouleux threaded through them (I still might change this to a cord made with emroidery thread matched to the coral stripe of the cuffing but that’s for another day)

TOP TIP: The binding on this top used one of my go to techniques for a lightweight finish. Cut a strip of binding about 5cm wide from the fabric you are using, not on the bias as this is too stretchy but at about 25 degrees. Fold the whole thing in half and press. Place the binding on the wrong side and line up your three raw edges (two for the binding one from the neck or arm hole you are binding). Stitch round the whole thing (folding your ends neatly where they join) Trim the raw edges down to about 0.5cm, fold the entire binding to the outside. Top stitch into place.  Supr neat, super light and super strong for this kind of drapey fabric.

And there we go! Time for a try on. I have just got to decide which combo is my favourite now!!!

Plastic free July!

Design team member Rudy is taking part in Plastic free July!

Are you like me trying to do plastic free July? It’s super hard! You can’t buy anything convenient! It has made me so much more organised, especially with packing my own lunch to take to the office…

To assist with this I decided to make some beeswax wraps. I picked out some awesome printed fabric from Sew Crafty, rainbow for me (obviously!) and the black for my husband because he is boring and wouldn’t take my rainbow ones to his office ha ha! I got half a meter of each which has left me with plenty spare. Wraps are said to last about 6 months, where you can re wax them or start again. These fabrics are perfect for it as they are pure cottons which don’t react when heated up in the oven, I would be wary of using polycottons as I’m not sure how they would react in the heat.

 

I set about my research for the best recipe for the wraps, which apparently was much more complicated than I had intended. Some recipes call for pine resin, coconut oil, jojoba oil and bees wax, others call for a variation of the above so I decided to look a little deeper.

Pine resin is a) expensive! And b) not very good for humans to ingest. I was wondering why this seems to be a key ingredient in most the wraps recipe but came to the conclusion you aren’t actually eating the food wrap, but as my food was going to be very close I decided not to risk it.

Coconut oil is readily available and I already had some in the cupboard, though when you use it on your wraps it makes everything a bit slimy! I did variations to see the best recipe and I think I will omit coconut oil now. Whilst it helps with the bendiness of the wraps I feel like the oil is coming off on my hands every time I touch it.

 

Jojoba oil is expensive too but something I’d probably use more often as a carrier for other essential oils etc. I bought the one from Holland and Barret but I’m sure any health food shop would have something similar. The jojoba oil has disinfecting properties which helps keep them clean and fresh for the next batch of food.

Bees wax is easily bought from lots of places. I bought mine from Ebay. I made sure it was food grade pellets which are easier to melt when you put them under heat. As this is the key ingredient you can’t really do without this one but if you wanted you could just use beeswax as I think this works really well also.

So there’s some background into my research I’d love to know if you have anything else to add to help with the wraps?

My method is as below:

1.     Cut the fabric to you desired size, and overlock the edges or pinking shear them whatever you have available to make sure the fabric doesn’t fray. If you are making them into pouches sew the sides together at this point as the wax will soak into multiple layers.

2.     Use an old baking tray and line it with greaseproof paper. If you get wax on your baking try you probably don’t want to use it for food again so bare that in mind when selecting the tools.

3.     Heat the oven up, I did mine at about 180’c

4.     Lay your items out on the tray, if your wraps are too big for the tray don’t worry the wax will seep through layers so fold them over.

5.     Sprinkle the beeswax over the fabric. I probably use too much as there is wax deposits on the outside of my fabrics so use it sparingly.

6.     Put in the oven for about 2-3 minutes, or until all the wax has melted.

7.     When you take them out the over sprinkle a few drops of jojoba oil over the fabric while it cools.

8.     Leave it on the tray until it is cool. If you are making pouches or layered items it’s worth separating the layers whilst it is still warm so it doesn’t stick together too much.

I hope this is helpful and you have many more picnics to follows!  I even made some to replace the cling film i use in the fridge, for when i have leftover in a bowl or need to cover over some fruit so it doesn’t go dry. The wax lets it mold around things.

See you next time!

70s vibes!

Rachel's fabulous 70's inspired dress

For my second make for the sew crafty blog I was immediately drawn to this stunning 70’s chiffon over in the Sew Crafty Shop, having not worked with chiffon much in my sewing journey, I knew this fabric would need careful handling but also which pattern would show off this amazing print to its fullest, Vogue V9253. I have made a version of this pattern before but don’t let the extremely low cut front neckline put you off, its very easy to alter it to make you feel less exposed!

This pattern was released by Vogue a couple of years ago and is one of their easy makes, the pattern consists of a front and back bodice with grown on sleeves and a front and back skirt,  the caftan design with waist ties can be made knee or maxi length and features pleats in the front bodice and skirt, an invisible back zipper and ties which are stitched into the back seam and tie at the front, it comes in sizes XS though to XL and I cut the size S, I lengthened the bodice by an inch but apart from that made no other adjustments to the base pattern. Due to the design of the pattern pieces, this pattern is very fabric hungry and I needed almost 4m of fabric to create this dress.

For this version I omitted the stitched in ties and created a separate belt that was detachable. I also partially lined the bodice with some ivory lining fabric from my stash, and created a short underskirt as chiffon by its very design tends to be fairly sheer. I chose to sew a narrow hem which gave me the opportunity to practice this sewing technique and finishes the dress off perfectly.

 

This chiffon is fairly sturdy to work with but to make it even easier to handle, I sprayed it with spray starch first, this is a great tip for working with floaty fabrics and washes out easily.

With some left over fabric I created an additional headband to complete the 70’s vibe and I absolutely love the result, it’s totally ‘Margot’ from the good life and perfect for swishing in and swanning around the garden with a glass of something.

 

As always, thanks to the Sew Crafty Team for gifting this fabric to me.

 

New Arrivals from some of our New Suppliers

Check out these New arrivals from some brand new suppliers.

First up is this sewing themed collection called Shades of Grey (stop it!) from Sweet Bee Designs. We have four prints from the collection, and I think the writing one and the scissor print are my favourites.  They will make beautiful sewing accessories and quilts obviously.

Click the image to view the collection.

Next up, also from Sweet Bee Designs, is a collection of blenders that comes in a few gorgeous shades. The cutest thing about these is the little print is that the little triangles/semi circles look a little bit like tiny tacos. Available in Navy, Ice Blue, Mint, Grey, pink, pea green and tasty orange.

Click the image to view the collection.

Paintbrush Studios is also a new to me brand and when I ordered these back in February at Stitches I knew it would be a hard wait, But sooooo worth it. These Donut prints are part of a collection called ‘Food Truck’ that also includes ice creams and cocktails, with a fab retro vibe.

Click the image to view the collection.

This was the collection that I had bought even before the rep had the shade card out of his bag, and if you know me you will know why. The Blog A Beautiful Mess and the sisters Elsie and Emma who run it are a massive inspiration to me. I have been following Elsie since she was a papercraft designer over 10 years ago and honestly feel like she is a marvellous role model.

This is a fabric collection designed by the sisters and their in-house designer and you can tell I couldn’t decide which ones to have because I chose a massive eight prints form the collection.

Click the image to view the collection.

These three fabrics are from one of my favourite new fabric brands Figo Fabrics. As well as stoking their Lucky Charm collection I have also ordered a few cute fabrics from other collections including theses fun novelty prints from Promenade by Danielle Kroll.

Click the image to view the collection.

And then these beauties from a collection called Rolleken by Cathy Nordstrom a name you may recognise from past Dashwood Studio fabric collections. I Love the colourway of these prints and they look as good alone as they do all together.

Click the image to view the collection.