Debbie’s Shirred dress with olive floral fabric

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you’ve probably seen all the hype around the shirred dress trend this summer.

By Hand London did a fabulous tutorial on drafting your own which is on their Instagram and I’ve been wanting to give it a try for a few months now.

As soon as we got this beautiful olive floral viscose in stock I knew it would make a gorgeous Autumn dress and thought I would give the shirred dress a go. It does not disappoint! It’s so easy as there are no real fit issues, this dress will fit any shape or size and can expand while your wearing it which is always a plus in my book!

As I always do when planning a make, I stalk the hashtag first! #bhlshirreddress has plenty of inspiration but I also had a look on Pinterest to see if there were any other good ideas for styling, length and sleeve details and found the following inspiring images…

I’ve made plenty of midi dresses this year so wanted to add a short dress that I can wear with boots and tights into the winter.

This is the gorgeous fabric below which actually has more of a green base than ochre…it’s beautiful!

There are a few others in stock if this is not your colour which would work fabulously for this project.

The fabric I used is a lovely drapey viscose but you can use lightweight cotton (like this gingham) too which would give the sleeves a lot more drama and structure.

You will need:

2m- 3m of fabric (depending on how long you want your dress to be)

Shirring Elastic

Elastic for your sleeve head approx 12mm

Sewing kit

I started by measuring my bust and adding half again to get the measurement for the top of the dress…this was not far off the full with of the fabric 150cm so I  simply used the width of the fabric and the length of 31″ 

Then I cut 2 rectangles for the sleeves measuring approx 20″ long by 24″ wide.

You will need a few bobbins hand-wound with shirring elastic, there are plenty of good tutorials on You Tube if you have trouble getting the shirring to work but I found it worked no problem with a stitch setting of 3 or 3.5.

Make a tube with your main body of fabric and finish the seams. Hem the top of the dress and then you can start shirring the bodice ( I started about 3cm down from the top of the hemmed dress). The By Hand London tutorial gets you shirring the dress flat and then joining the side seams after but I found going round and round in one go in a spiral with a gap of 1cm per row was quicker and easier. I had to change the bobbin about 4 times so keep an eye on your bobbin…nothing worse than stitching nothing!!

I did about 9″ of shirring to get a babydoll dress effect but you could lengthen this depending on how you want your dress to sit.

To make the sleeves I stitched the edges together, finished the seams, and hemmed the top leaving a gap for the elastic. Measure two pieces of 1cm elastic to fit snuggly around your underarm and shoulder and then thread this through the channel in the sleeve. Sew the ends of the elastic closed and sew the gap in the hem closed.

I decided to do 6 rows of shirring on the cuff, in the same way, I shirred the bodice.

To attach the sleeves, pop the dress on (or on a dressmakers dummy ) and pin the sleeves to the underarms with the right sides of the top of the sleeves and the top of the dress facing. Stitch in place with a straight stitch. I stitched the sleeves on with approx 5″ of stitching.

Hem your dress and make yourself a matching mask…because have you even sewn a dress this year if you haven’t made a matching mask?!

I love how this turned out and already have another two planned! The fabric was a dream to work with and the colour is beautiful, not something I would normally go for but I was surprised how it suited my skin tone, I think because the cool pink and blue flowers are warmed up by the olive background.

Have you made a shirred dress or top…would you give this trend a go?

Debbie x

DIY Statement fabric headband

Hairbands and hair accessories are still a huge trend this winter and they are super easy to make with fabric scraps!
In this DIY I will show you a simple way of making a knotted fabric hairband. I used the Ruby Star Society fabric in Spark Mustard  (which is half price in our sale
You could also embellish your hairband with beads or pearls for a fabulous party look and these would also make great stocking fillers!

You will need:

A plain hairband ( I got mine a few years ago from eBay)

A strip of fabric

Glue gun or fabric glue, if you don’t want to use glue you can hand stitch instead.

Basic sewing kit

Lets get started!

Step 1

Cut a rectangle of fabric measuring 21” x 7”. Fold fabric in half right sides together and sew down the long edge leaving a gap of 2” in the middle (to turn through)

Step 2

Press the strip so the seam is in the centre and then sew the short edges

Step 3

Turn through the opening you left when sewing and press

Step 4

Place the hairband in the middle of the fabric strip and tie a knot.

Step 5

Arrange the knot so you are happy with it and that is nice and centred making sure the rest of the fabric reaches the ends of the hairband.

Step 6

Fold in and hot glue the bottom sides down starting one side and folding over the other side.

Let us know if you make this hairband, we love seeing your makes!

Autumn /Winter fashion trends

Blimey, it’s suddenly got cold! I’m sat typing this with a long sleeved top, cardigan and my me-made Haori jacket on and I’m still freezing!

But, despite being tool cold it’s a lovely sunny day and I’m excited to start planning my Autumn/ Winter makes and add some useful staples to my wardrobe. I made lots of lovely dresses this summer and want to make sure that I can wear these items through the winter months too paired with chunky knits, cosy coats and practical shirts.

I’ve been looking at high street trends to get some ideas and as always Instagram and other makers are a massive source of inspiration.

Here are a few of my favorite Autumn/ Winter trends and some fabric and pattern pairings to get the look for yourself…

Velvet…

Velvet tops are always a Winter winner, they look luxurious, are great for social events …probably less relevant this Winter, unfortunately, but sometimes it’s still nice to be fancy at home! It can be dressed up or down easily with denim and is lovely and cosy!

Some patterns we would recommend are:

Pinnacle Top/ Sweater by Papercut Patterns

The Ilford Jacket – Friday Pattern Company ( I made one in velvet earlier this year and left off the buttons so it’s like a fancy cardi!)

Cashmerette – Dartmouth top (great for a stretch velvet)

Corduroy…

Cord is back in again…in fact, I don’t think it went away! Such a warm and versatile fabric. Perfect for menswear…I’m definitely planning on doing more un-selfish sewing and making a few things for my husband!

Again, the Ilford Jacket is great as it’s unisex 

I would also recommend the following:

Mimi G Jean Jacket Simplicity 8845

Simplicity 8475

Thread Theory Designs – Fairfield Button-up shirt

Luxe fabrics…

Simple elastic waist midi skirts are really easy to make and made with a luxe fabric are perfect for Autumn/ Winter teamed with a band tee and chunky boots.

We’ve got some lovely plisse fabrics and chiffons in stock so you can get the look.

Patterns to try:

Sew Liberated Gypsum skirt

Sewaholic easy skirt pattern

Also, have a look on You Tube for a free tutorial! All you need is some fabric, a sewing machine and elastic for the waistband.

Shop the pleated sparkling jersey here

Coat fabrics…

I’ve made a Wiksten Haori already for Autumn (Which is fabulous by the way and I would totally recommend making one in denim or quilting cotton for a lighter transitional jacket) but think I’ll need something a bit more substantial for Winter. 

Checks, teddy and borg are all in again. The trend for oversized coats and chore style coats is big for Winter and we’ve got some lovely wool mix and teddy coating in stock.

Here are a few great patterns you could try pairing with our fabric range:

Stacker Jacket – Papercut Patterns

Sapporo Coat – Papercut Patterns

The Coat – The Avid Seamstress

Opium Coat – Deer and Doe

Cascade Duffle Coat – Grainline Studio

Let us know what your sewing plans are for Autumn/ Winter.

 

What key pieces will you be adding to your wardrobe this season?

How to upcycle fabric scraps into a quilted tote

With sustainability at the forefront of our minds it’s really important to think of ways we can reduce our impact on the environment. Using our fabric offcuts is a small way we can reduce waste and landfill and make something beautiful that we can use for years to come.

As sewists we all have a few (bags of) fabric scraps! 

I’ve been using lots of Ruby Star Society fabrics this year for various projects and collected every little scrap to be used at some point. 

I was going to make a scrappy quilt or cushion cover with all the off cuts, but then I changed my mind and actually a decent sized tote bag would be more…handy!

I cut up all my bits of fabric and just randomly sewed them up just enjoying the process and not really planning how it would look. That’s the thing with scraps they tend to be haphazard!

I used some left over batting from another quilt project and some larger pieces of fabric from my stash for a lining. My pieces ended up measuring approx 14″ x 13″. I used my machine to stitch some quilting lines throughout the bag pieces. I then stitched the sides and bottom on the bag together.

I made box corners on the inside at 2.5″ up from the corner, trimmed them and turned the bag right sides through. At this point you can bind your unfinished edges if your machine can cope with the layers. I finished the top edge of the bag with bias binding which I turned to the inside of the bag and top stitched.

I had some faux leather bag handles in my stash which were just the perfect match and stitched them on with some strong thread.

I love how this bag looks, it will be perfect for popping to the shops or for a sewing project bag and the fabrics are so fun! I can’t imagine throwing away such gorgeous fabrics, my scrap bag is still growing and I may tackle a quilted jacket at some point!

How do you use your scraps?

Julia pocket top in leopard print

@aliivens makes a cosy jumper

For this months theme of ‘knitwear’ I chose this lovely leopard print ponte* because, ya know, I’d live in leopard print if I could!

It’s beautifully soft and who doesn’t love the idea of a project that is going to be easy to sew but super comfy when it’s finished!

*This fabric is now sold out but there are lots of other lovely jersey knits in stock here

I chose to make the Julia Pocket Top by Sew Me Something. I’ve made this top four times before, including once for my sister, and I know it’s a great pattern and a quick and simple make. The integrated pockets on the front are quite genius and you get a different look depending on the fabric you make it with. I got version 1, which is a clean, long-sleeved top with a simple neck band, out of 1.5m and I knew this would be a boxy top so I cut the width of the smallest size but kept the sleeve and neckline of the size 14.
 

The fabric was pre washed at 30 degrees and ironed with a medium heat prior to cutting, not that it really needed it! I did wonder at one point if I should be using my walking foot but this fabric went smoothly through both my sewing machine and overlocker. It took approximately 90 minutes to make up and that included having to rethread one of the loopers on my overlocker when it ran out!

I love the oversized look of this design. I think this will be a great option for throwing over my running gear when the weather gets a little cooler. Looking at it now, I wonder if the neckband should have been a little smaller… I might go back and change that later (probably not though!).
 
That’s all I have to say about this make. A quick and easy one, perfect for autumn and lovely and comfy. Thanks Sammy for this gorgeous fabric!

Trimmings inspiration

I’m always drawn to sparkly, pretty trims but rarely use them. I think that’s because traditionally trims are used on occasion wear and I don’t have many ‘occasions’ to go to – ha!

We’ve got so many beautiful trims in stock and I am keen to try and find more ways to use them which are a ‘everyday’ friendly. With my fashion backgroud I naturally love looking at Pinterest for dressmaking inspiration and at beautiful embelished clothes so here are a few ways to dress them down!

We have just had some gorgeous daisy trim in two sizes delivered. I love the idea of cutting the individual daisy’s off the chain and adding them to a plain dress for a retro feel. This dress by Miss Patina uses this trim both on the collar edge and individually on the flower print on the actual dress to highlight the daisy print…so lovely!!

Adding some lace trim to the sleeves of an old t-shirt or vest top is a great way of jazzing up an old top that would otherwise end up in the charity bag…

Sew on or iron on motifs are a great way of giving new life to an old shirt and can add a feminine look to an upcycled men’s shirt…

Lace trims added to simple t-shirts are a great every day look. They smarten up a plain tee for work and look a bit more put together with jeans and simple sandals…

I hope this has give you a bit of inspiration for your latest make or upcycle!
 
Do you like trims, have you added any to makes this year or do you feel it’s more a partywear thing?

 

Next time I’ll talk about all the bling!

 

Debbie x

Lulu Cardigan by Pattern Scout in leopard print ponte roma

Sally's me made knit cardi

Hey All! Sally here aka The Yorkshire Sewist.

I don’t know about you guys but I lack me made cardigans in my wardrobe and when I came across the Lulu Cardigan by Pattern Scout via my fellow blogger Carol, I had to make it!

I fell in love with the peplum style of this and thought it would make a cute addition to my many dresses.

The Pattern calls for Medium to heavyweight knit fabric, such as double knit, ponte or scuba knit. So I had a look through Sammy’s shop and came across this fabulous Leopard Ponte Roma Jersey MP5125PE (which is unfortunately is out of stock at the moment but others available here) I knew I had to have it!

Now, I’ve not sewn much with jersey and buttonholes, so for a change I went for these beautiful heart shaped snaps that would set this cardigan off a treat.

As with Sammy’s parcels they come beautifully packaged and had all my materials at hand to make a start with my project.

I do quite like taping PDF Patterns together and with this cardi with different cup sizes it was really good to let you know which pages needed to be printed rather than wasting half a tree!

Armed with my Sewing Journal I was able to make sure I noted any adjustments and made sure I cut all out all the required pattern pieces.

According to my measurements I went for Size 12 and D Cup and was taking a risk by not toiling this! I made the usual adjustment by taking 1.5” off the sleeve length.

I used my frixion pen for pattern markings as it is easier to use on jersey fabric.

The pattern asked for a strip of knit interfacing for where the buttonholes/snaps go but I had some Vilene Knit stabiliser tape which was just the right width and used that instead and worked a treat.

This was a really quick sew to say I had to make the peplum and gather with dental floss, it makes gathering so much easier as you set your sewing machine to a wide zig stitch and place the floss in the middle so that the needle on your machine goes either side of it. Make sure you leave an inch or so at the start and end of where you want the gathering stitiching. Then all you do is pull and it just glides! So much easier than using two rows of stitching as I can never gather that way!

But with ‘cheating’ with snaps it made the whole process a lot easier and no getting angry at Mr Singer for not chewing up the fabric, he has a nasty habit of that when it comes to jerseys but this was great to sew with.

Of course no memade garment is complete without adding in a label. I used this one by CraftyPinUp and the gold glitter and black just suits it so well.

Oh aye not forgetting the copious amounts of topstitching involved but it was well worth the effort as the end result just looks so professional. As usual I tested out the stitch length to make sure I had it at the right tension.

So here is my completed Lulu!

Head over to Sammy’s Instagram stories to see the cardi in action!

Happy Sewing!

Sally x

‘Sew Over It’ Penny dress with Ruby Star Society Fabric

Lisa's cotton dress with piping...

Hi there!

Wow it feels like forever since I was last here.  I hope you are all well and managing to stay safe in these weird, unexpected times and are finding happiness and relaxation in your sewing adventures.  I know for me, it’s a bit up and down and sometimes I’m struggling to even think about sewing.  Partly because I’d over indulged during lockdown and gained a bit of the old weight so I didn’t feel like making pretty clothes for myself and partly due to the stresses of owning a business that isn’t yet allowed to open.

However when Sammy gave us the go ahead to start blogging again I knew I needed to get my act together and start making for me again.  I’d already started the healthy eating and lost almost a stone so felt a new dress would definitely be a celebration.

When I saw the Ruby Star Alma Faces fabric I almost immediately fell in love.  I was torn between the mustard and the one I chose.  Sammy had also posted over on Instagram the red button lips that I chose to use and I thought they’d be perfect as this month’s theme was fastenings.

 I initially thought it was black and white from the pictures so figured a pop of red with the buttons would work well with it and opted to make a fabric belt in red to accompany the buttons, however it is in fact navy blue and off white.  Not to worry though as I think it works pretty well with the navy and cream too.

I had a bit of a think and decided that I’d make myself the Penny Dress by Sew Over It London.  Now, if you follow me over on Instagram (you can find me on @sewlastminutelisa if you fancy a look) you’ll know that I’ve made 3 of these previously for my mum but not actually made any for myself. 

The fabric is only 43” (about 110 cm) wide and the pattern called for 140cm wide so I knew that I would have to take some of the volume out of the skirt.  I knew this wouldn’t necessarily be a problem so decided to go for it.   It has taken quite a bit out of the bottom of the skirt and made it more of an A line looking skirt rather than the fullness of a circle skirt.  However I really like it.

I felt like the belt might be a bit on the plain side so opted to have a play with the ribbon stitches on my Pfaff Performance Icon and jazz the red fabric belt up a little.  Now, if you’ve not seen these stitches before they are amazing.  It’s like plaiting ribbon.  You have the option to use 1, 2 or 3 ribbons with a combination of different stitches to hold them in place.  This is the first time I’ve had a project that I could really use it on and I have to say I’m really happy with how it turned out.  My only tip is to make sure you use stabiliser underneath the decorative stitches on your machine!

I managed to find a bit of red piping in my stash so decided to add this to the shoulder epaulettes to give a pop of colour in that area and add a bit of interest.  I simply pinned it as instructed in the pattern but wedged the piping in between the seam allowances and it was sewn together using my zipper foot and by moving the needle right across to the left of the zipper foot it enable me to get up close to the piping.

Again, my Pfaff always performs when it comes to doing buttonholes (except when its user error lol J) and it didn’t disappoint this time either.  I was a bit concerned with the shape of the buttons however, once they’d been pushed through the holes a couple of times they were fine.  I always make sure to use Fray Check whenever I’m doing buttonholes just to make sure there’s no fraying once I’m done.

Now, the hubby never really comments on the stuff I make unless I specifically ask his opinion (which, let’s be honest with 2 girls living at home, does his opinion really count? Lol!) However, he was quite taken with this little number and made sure to tell me how much he liked it and that it looked so professional so I’m taking this one as a definite win! 🙂

I wore this dress almost as soon as it was finished and have to say it was so so comfortable.  The fabric felt lovely against my skin (certain fabrics irritate my skin nowadays) and it was a dream to wash and press.  Overall I’m giving this one 10/10 – can you tell I’m gushing now :).  I’ve had so many compliments about the dress and the fabric when I’ve been out and about in it, it makes me feel great to wear it.

Let me know what projects you’ve been working on using this fabric!  I’d love to see them!  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and looking forward to seeing you again next month!

Take care, until next time

Lisa  x

@sewlastminutelisa

A denim chambray Zadie jumpsuit

Alsion in her zadie jumpsuit in denim chambray from Samantha Claridge Studio

Alison's new favourite pattern!

 
 
 
Well hello there! What a year it’s been so far! Aside from what has dominated the news for the last 6 months (lets not dwell on that) I have decided that 2020 shall be remembered as ‘the year I got on the Zadie bandwagon’!!!
 
Quite honestly I have a bone to pick with all of you for not convincing me to try this pattern earlier! I truly believe that, along with the Kielo wrap dress, this is a garment that suits everyone. I don’t think I’ve seen a dodgy one yet!
My first go at this pattern was out of a 100% cotton wax print and, of course, it sewed up beautifully. It’s such a comfy jumpsuit that I immediately decided I needed many more in my wardrobe to take me through all seasons! So for my second version I thought the sleeved option in a nice mid-weight chambray in a neutral colour would be wonderful for the Autumn. I was gifted 3m of this beautiful fabric from Samantha Claridge Studio and I knew it was going to be perfect for the job as I’d used it before on the Costa Tote a few posts back. Obviously I washed it at 30 degrees first and gave it a good iron before cutting it out.
 
I started making this a couple of weeks ago on one of the hottest days of the year! I could barely sit at my machine for 10 minutes without breaking into a sweat and forget about getting the iron out! I did what I could in small stints and, fortunately, this is a simple make which comes together very easily. I did make a silly boob early on though as I wasn’t paying much attention to the instructions so attached the pocket without sewing up the bottom of the bag… hey ho, easily fixed! And that will teach me!
 
 
I modified the pattern by tapering the legs as I’m not sure the wide leg style suits me. I did this by using the Made By Jacks Mum Hey Day Dungarees as a guide for the shape of the legs.
 
All in all this project was a pleasure to sew. The fabric is a dream to work with, is so soft and behaves well. It frays a little but I overlocked the edges to tidy them up. The reverse is a lighter shade of blue which looks great when the sleeves/hems are rolled up. I can see me getting a lot of wear out of this and it can be styled up in a few different ways. 
 
Guess what I want to make now… a Zadie dress hack! Have you hacked the Zadie? Let me know!
 
Laters,
Ali x

Autumnal Quincy dress made with Figo Fabrics terrazzo print

Hey folks! Hope things are getting back to some normality; can you believe we are in August already?! So my next project for Samantha Claridge Studio have to had a Autumnal feel to it so of course I went to one of my favourite indie sewing pattern company – Jennifer Lauren Handmade.

Not sure if you have seen my recent makes but I seem to be making is by Jennifer’s gorgeous modern yet vintage vibes so of course I had to stick my current streak.

I had the Quincy Dress in my stash for only a month and when I came across the beautiful Figo Perfect Day Terrazzo in Black and just screamed at me… yes a lot of things just scream at me and that’s how I roll.

Shop Figo fabrics here

So the dress calls for 4 buttons and saw that Sammy stocked the cutest sewing themed buttons, I knew I had to use them.

As usual my DT Project always come well packaged and my Cat had to inspect on what sewing goodies had arrived too.

Upon reading the sizing chart and with my previous few makes I knew the size 14 with D Cup would be ah ok, don’t you just love a Sewing Pattern with separate Cup sizes so no need to do FBA, Yas!

Even with the fabric being 43” wide I was able to get the most out of the fabric with pattern tetris as I like to call it and had enough fabric left over to make myself a matchy matchy mask since this is the new normal.

Know I don’t about you other experienced sewers but sometimes I just need that bit of help of getting my bust darts to be straight so I ended up using my frixiion pen and drawing the lines on for easy and precise sewing.

As always I like to be prepared so I wound my bobbins full and made sure I had the necessary tools at my disposal so no routing through my sewing boxes.

The pattern called for ribbon or bias binding to make the drawstring so with the Bias binding that was delivered I pressed it with an iron so that the long edges met and sewn it along that edge.

As with any project that requires buttonholes, I always do I test on a scrap piece just to make the buttonhole is sewed properly.

I really like the cleanness of the seams on the inside when stitching the yoke and when attaching the front part of the bodice as it nicely hidden away and of course the topstitching too.

Don’t you just love it when you sew in the sleeves that the seams match up perfectly! I tell you for a fact it’s a rarity even with the amount of careful pinning involved it doesn’t always work.

It sews up really quick and before you know it you are onto the buttonholes. I always mark where they need to be and be quite accurate on where the buttonholes are starting too.

Of course you need snacks to keep you going when hand sewing right?

Then before I knew I was sewing the drawstring channel and the hemming the skirt which I finished by using a double fold hem, which is my preferred way of finishing hems as it gives it a little more added weight to the hem to sit right.

 

Here is my newly sewn Quincy whilst out and about and of course with my matchy matchy face mask.

Does anyone else make matching face masks to their makes too?

Happy Sewing!

Sally