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

New In Dressmaking fabrics!

We’ve had some lovely new fabrics arrive at Samantha Claridge HQ, perfect for the change of weather and to start off your Autumn/ Winter wardrobe! From viscose to jersey, cotton poplin to rayon jersey, and some stretch lace too!

Below we’ve paired each fabric to a pattern to give you a little sewing inspiration! Please leave your suggestions for pattern pairings in the comments below, we’d love to know what you would make with these beauties!

Pattern suggestions from left to right:

Tilly and the Buttons – Lotta dress

Fibre Mood – Franca

Fibre Mood  – Mindy

Pattern suggestions from left to right:

Simplicity – S8738

McCalls  – M7983

Pipe Dream Patterns – The Tara Basic

Pattern suggestions from left to right:

McCalls – M7864

Simplicity – 8707

Style Arc – Kitt Knit dress

What’s your favourite fabric and what would you make?

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!

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?

Autumn Wilder Gown with only 2m of fabric!

Now that we are rapidly heaing into Autumn/ Winter I’m looking to add some versatlie dresses to my me-made wardrobe that can be layered with knitwear and worn with boots or trainers.

I decided to give the Wilder Gown by Friday Pattern Company a go. It’s been such a popular pattern in the sewing comminty but I wasn’t sure it was quite my style earlier this year, but I’ve seen some great styling of it lately and I thought it would probably be a useful pattern for the Autumn/ Winter months so I gave it a try and wasn’t disappointed!

 

Anyone who has made the Wilder Gown knows it comes together really quickly, but it can be quite fabric hungry so I wanted to see If I could squeeze a mini version out of 2m of fabric…I only went and did it…and with hacked full sleeves too!

I don’t know about you but I have a few bits of 2M fabric in my stash and not quite sure what to do with them so this hack is a great one to get the look of a gathered smock dress but maximising fabric use

This is how I did it!..

Firstly, picking a wide fabric is key to squeezing this dress out of 2M! I used the black and white pea spot georgette which is 150cm wide along with some black velvet ribbon for the neck tie for added prettiness and saving time and fabric!

 

If polka dots arent your thing Sammy has some other beautiful fabrics that would work brilliantly, these are all 150cm wide and have beautiful drape so are perfet for the Wilder Gown…

From left to right:

Navy flower garden viscose £3.75 per 0.5m

Autumn floral print viscose £3.75 per 0.5m

Ochre crinkle Georgette £3.50 per 0.5m

Aubergine Georgette £4.75 per 0.5m

 

So, onto construction!

I cut the top as instructed and then used the width of the fabric to make one long skirt panel, this is obviously narrower than the pattern and makes for a slightly less full skirt. I then cut two narrower strips for the bottom ruffle and stitched them together end to end.

I wanted a full sleeve that I could add a shirred cuff to so I used th slash and spread method on the sleeve and cut 2 on the fold using the whole width of the fabric.

This pattern gives you the option to make a neck tie with matching fabric or use ribbon. I chose velvet ribbon for two reasons, firstly it saves on fabric! and secondly I thought a neck tie in this polka dot print would be too much and the velvet ribbon breaks it up a bit and adds a touch of luxury!

Georgette is a fairly ‘bouncy’ fabric and doesn’t take well to pressing so I opted to top stitch the waist seam and ruffle seam. This is a feature that is used in the Myosotis dress and I’ve adpoted for a few of my dresses now…It helps to keep the seams flat and I love a bit of top stitching, it’s so satisfying!

I shirred the cuff of the sleeves 1.5″ up from the hem of the cuff to add some volume which is oh so popular at the moment and I have to say I’m loving it! 

I’m so pleased I managed this mini dress hack with just 2m of fabric and the outcome is lovely! Next time I would add pockets though! This should see me through the winter months with tights, boots and a biker jacket!

Would you give this a go? What are you making for the change of season?

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

Rainbow stripe cotton shirtdress

Alexa's Sew Over It Alex Shirt dress

Hi All! After a bit of a break, I’m back with the Samantha Claridge design team and here to provide you with a very vibrant return.   

This summer I’ve been fully embracing my love of colour and pattern and it’s been great. So for my first project back with the Samantha Claridge design team, I wanted to make something that fit this bill. With this in mind, this rainbow striped cotton basically screamed ‘pick me’ at me!

I have a number of Sew Over It Alex shirts, from their capsule wardrobe e-book, in steady rotation in my wardrobe. I love a shirtdress but the only one of the Alex shirtdresses I made was too big and long and I just didn’t love it and ended up donating it to a friend. I thought that it might be time to revisit it.

This Robert Kaufman cotton is a gorgeous weight and was dreamy to cut out and sew. I had fun playing with the stripes on the yoke and collar. I cut out some sleeves but thought that a dress this bright is really going to be worn mainly in the sunshine so decided against adding them. I think this works really well as a sleeveless dress though.

Embracing the kitch-ness of my outfit, I used these super cute heart buttons. I was a little concerned that due to the unusual shape, they would open unexpectedly but I have had no problems with them.

It’s a shame the weather has taken a decidedly autumnal turn so I’m not sure how much wear I’ll get out of this dress this year. However, if pride festivities return next year, I have my outfit sorted!

Sienna jacket in Rico blush leaves canvas

 

Wow how is it September so soon?

 

As Keats once penned in his Ode to Autumn. “Tis the season of Mists and mellow fruitfulness”

I just love the Autumn, as the too hot days of summer start to slip away I begin to think of what’s yet to come, boots and tights and warm coats! But before that is needed, we get to move gently through cooler days.

I have really wanted to make the Sienna Maker Jacket by Closet Core patterns for ages. I didn’t list my “make nine” on Instagram this year as I get too distracted by all the lovely new patterns and rarely stick to it. But if I had, this pattern would definitely have featured on it!

I think it’s a perfect jacket for the coming autumn, especially in this lovely Rico Fabrics 100% cotton canvas.

This colourway is now out of stock but it’s available in green, polka dot and star print. Click here to shop Rico canvas

Not too heavy, just perfect for those cool mornings, walking to work. But light enough that if it should warm up during the day, I’ll still be comfortable on my walk home!

I chose to make view C for my Sienna in a straight size 12 and although I wasn’t sure which style to make initially, I think the boxy style of view C really suits the nature of the canvas.

The Sienna is described as “a chic utility jacket inspired by vintage French workwear. Designed for hard-wearing use by makers and artists, it functions as both stylish outerwear and a highly practical layer for use inside the studio”

The canvas is a generous 140cm width and when it arrived, I gave it a quick 30° wash and line dried it. I doubt I’ll need to wash it, but you never know and if I do, I certainly would hate it if my lovely jacket were to shrink on its first trip around the washing machine! The fabric is a kind of dusky pink with black leaves which seem to tumble all over the surface, some solid black and some not quite solid, a bit vague in nature. Perfect autumn leaves.

The surface texture is quite coarse in appearance so perfect for “chic work wear!” I chose to add a Black Guetermann thread for top stitching, which really shows off the buttonholes, placket and patch pockets.

I just love the crisp notched collar which can be worn buttoned at the neck. The features of the optional sleeve pockets and a back-button placket are just so different to any other jacket pattern that its instantly recognisable. I really think as the canvas gradually ages, this jacket will just get better and better, I absolutely love it!

Although, I must say though one thing perturbs me! The pattern and so my jacket, button on the wrong side (the man’s side) I realised this before I came to add the buttons and buttonholes, but chose to go along with it anyway!

I think as its meant to be work wear, it’s a unisex design feature and although it feels a bit strange to undo and do-up buttons on the wrong side, I’m sure I’ll get used to it as I’m planning on wearing this all the time!

I really hope you love my pink canvas Sienna as much as I do. Which is a lot!!

Till next time keep chatting and stitching! @Chatterstitch aka Carol 😉

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