A handmade denim chambray plum dress and matching ruffle tote bag

Did you see this month’s Mollie Makes magazine? The free pattern was the Cocowawa Crafts Plum dress which I have had my eye on for a while now, its the perfect combination of oversized but cute and the ruffle detail on the sleeve adds a fun touch!

I’ve been wanting to add a light weight denim dress to my wardrobe for a few years…taken me long enough to get round to it I know! The medium denim chambray is the perfect summer hue and it’s got wonderful drape so it was the perfect choice for this project. You can find it here

I’ve been coveting this gorgeous daisy trim since it came in stock but was unsure what I would use it for…until now! I picked up a metre thinking it would be nice to have some scattered daisies on the dress, but my plans changed once I had made the dress as I like how plain it is  and know I’ll get more wear out of it as a plain denim staple piece.

so…I made the cutest bag and added the daisies to that instead!

Want to know how I made this bag? Check back to the blog tomorrow for the full tutorial!

Debbie x

Window check viscose faux jumpsuit

Hi you lovely lot, Debbie here!

I’m still on my journey to create my handmade wardrobe. It started a year ago during lockdown 1.0 and it been a really interesting year in terms of growth with my sewing, figuring out my style, and focussing on pieces I need. 

I’ve always loved dresses. Dressmaking for myself has not really been something I’ve really ever done though would you believe! I much preferred making for other people, my shop and doing projects for magazines etc. During last spring/ summer I thought I’d make a few pretty dresses in anticipation of the end of lockdown…little did we all know how long that would take to come and we are still a little way off a year later!

I fell into the trap of wanting to sew all the latest patterns…and there have been loads released in the last year! I’m at the point now where I really know what suits me, what I’ll actually get wear out of and not to get sucked into the newest pattern without really considering how it would fit into my wardrobe…that’s not to say there won’t be some rouge additions…sometimes you just cant help fall for that pretty pattern right?!

 

When I saw this Window grid viscose arrive in the shop I knew it would be the perfect addition to my wardrobe. My initial idea was to make a dress…but I have loads of dresses so maybe a jumpsuit? 

I’ve seen loads of sewists on Instagram make matching trousers/ skirts and tops and style them like a one-piece and let’s face it jumpsuits can be a pain when you need the loo!

I’ve worn my Style Arc Bob Pants in denim to death since I made them a few months ago so knew a new pair would be a great use of this gorgeous soft viscose and chose to pair it with an Ogden Cami for a really summery comfy outfit.

This black colourway is now out of stock but you can buy the blue version here!

This would work with any cotton or viscose though as both of these patterns are designed for woven fabrics.

Both of these patterns are super quick to make, once cut out they probably took me just over an hour each to whip up!

Now I’ve got two really wearable pieces to add to my me-made wardrobe which will mix and match with my t-shirts, jeans and jumpers. You could even layer a body under the Ogden cami if it’s a bit chilly.

These would also make fabulous Pajamas!

I’ll definitely make these again…a velvet set for winter would be divine!

Are you dress obsessed like me or do you prefer separates?

Below are some other fabrics I think would work fabulously for this set… 

Debbie x

 

Fabric suggestions:

The Nina Lee London Spring dress in mustard double gauze fabric

Alexa's floaty summer dress

 

 

This project feels like a bit of a design collaboration!

I had ordered this gorgeous double gauze with a totally different project in mind and then Sally posted this photo (below) with the latest Simply Sewing Magazine and my sewing (and weekend) plans suddenly changed! 

The @NinaLeeLondon Spring dress on the cover of the magazine just felt like such a good match for the double gauze. Double gauze feels like such a floaty summer material and this one is just a bit more opaque and maybe slightly thicker than other double gauzes that I have worked with which has the advantage of meaning that it isn’t at all transparent. 

Sammy currently has these beautiful double gauze fabrics in stock as well as some remnants of the mustard double gauze…

The pattern is really speedy and comes together easily. I am 173cm tall and felt that it looked like it would be way too short. As I have a long torso, I added 5cm to the bodice. I think the bodice is supposed to end above the waist so I’ve probably added a bit much length there. I like where the hem lands though, just above my knee, so overall adding 5cm has worked! 

The only challenge with sewing double gauze is whether or not to press as it ‘grows’ as the crinkles iron out. In addition, the gold printing on this fabric did not like being near the iron! I used a pressing cloth and only ironed where necessary, basically on the neckline and cuffs. 

This feels like such a good dress for floating around in the sunshine that I hope we’re going to get soon! The double gauze is so comfy to wear, so for those of you looking to upgrade from lounge wear, this is the way to go! Happy sewing!

Style Arc Blaire Shirtdress in red and black check cotton twill fabric

#scdesignteam Alison's perfect shirt dress

 
 
 
Hi there, so I’m back with my first blog post of 2021 and, after a slow start to the year, my sewjo is back up and running again!
 
Sammy has recently had quite a few new fabrics arrive into the shop and lucky us for getting the pick of the bunch! Something I’ve been wanting to make for a while now is the Style Arc Blaire Shirt Dress and when I saw this lovely red and black check cotton twill I couldn’t resist. 
 
 

 

 

 

 

It is so soft and almost has a brushed cotton feel to it. It’s light and drapey and washes and irons well. 

Red and Black 1.5″ Gingham cotton twill

£4.45 per half metre

So I’ve made the shirt version a couple of times. Generally it’s not difficult but, if you’ve sewn any Style Arc patterns before, you’ll know they’re stingy with the instructions and they also skip steps like how to best sew a curved hem and stay-stitching necklines, which in this case is vital. I had to use the instructions again as the dress is constructed slightly different to the shirt. The top comes together very easily and quickly. The bottom half is almost entirely constructed before attaching it to the top. I was eager to try out this pocket design but now that it’s finished I’ve realised that the bottom of the pocket bag is very low. If I pop my phone in there it’s banging around my knees! They’re a great design feature but I’m not sure they’ll get used that much!

Then the top is sewn to the bottom and the button plackets are added before the collar. Attaching the collar is always a little challenging with this pattern as the fabric at the back neckline needs easing in (not that they mention this in the instructions!). This time I decided to leave the collar off and stick with the collar stand. I hand stitched the inside of the collar on to keep it neat and tidy. This might be the most beautiful collar I’ve ever sewn!
 
 
I used a Change Maker label in the back and how cool does that look?! These are available from the shop and all profits from sales go to a monthly nominated charity with an emphasis on tackling social and environmental injustice.
 
I should have picked some buttons from Sam’s shop but when I ordered the fabric I totally forgot. She has a huge selection of fantastic buttons but in the end, I ordered a bag of simple black ones from Amazon.
 
 

Now then… I think we need to address the elephant in the room… pattern matching. Let’s just say I tried! I know I didn’t do a great job but I really did try, promise! What I’ve realised is that it would have been better to cut it out on the flat so I could see where all the checks are lining up, but I didn’t. I just tried to fold it so everything was straight and then cut on the fold. I’m lazy. Let’s move on…

Overall I love this, it’s such an easy wear both layered up in the cooler months and on it’s own in the summer. Special thanks to my son for taking the photos and not noticing for the entire shot that I’d put a hair clip on my sleeve! Thanks for the fabric, Sammy, I know I’m gonna get a lot of wear out of this one!
 
 
Fabric gifted in return for a blog post. Buttons and label purchased.

Tiger print Hey Day Dungarees for kids

I love a bold print, they are fun, frivolous, and give me total spring-summer vibes!

As soon as I saw this brand new print come in I knew that it would make a fabulous dress, shirt or overalls. 

As well as the Tiger print fabric, Sammy also got in some other really fun prints which you can shop here

I made my daughter a pair of the Waves and Wild (Was Made By Jack’s Mum) Hey Day Dungarees for Christmas and I’ve been itching to make some lightweight cotton ones for her as it’s a really easy make and comes together really quickly…plus there is a nice amount of topstitching…I love topstitching!

I’ve been sewing a lot with drapey fabric like viscose and crepe lately so I’d forgotten how brilliant cotton is to work with…it doesn’t shift around and it presses like a dream so you always get a nice crisp finish.

This Tiger stars cotton was perfect for this project, it is just the right weight for a spring/ summer outfit and great for running around in, whether you are a kid to an adult!! The fabric washes well and is lovely and breathable.

Audrey loves her new dunga’s! She’s requested some more for the summer as she is convinced she will live in them…I’m sure she will!

I’m also working on a Nina Lee Bakerloo dress with one of the other new fabrics…I can’t wait to show you as it’s a really bold fun look…I just hope I’m brave enough to pull it off!

What sewing plans do you have for Spring? Will you be trying out any of our fun new cotton prints?

Debbie x

NEW IN! Fun prints and spring brights

Spring is (nearly) here and I’m super excited to share some brand new fabrics perfect for some sunny makes!

 

SQUEE! These new cottons are just so much fun! They are perfect for making shirts, dresses, and Pyjamas.

We love the bright hues in the cowboy boot print…pink and green should definitely be seen!

The fried eggs are so much fun and would make a fabulous bucket hat!

Stuck for ideas for what to make? Check out our Spring inspiration below!

It will come as no surprise to you that celestial themes are always a YES from me! 

How about a cute pair of dungarees like the ones Debbie made with the Tiger Stars cotton! This is the Waves and Wild (formally Made By Jack’s Mum) Hey Day Dungaree pattern and it’s a great one for beginners. (head over to their newly branded site for downloadable PDF patterns)

Gingham and Seersucker are a no-brainer for the warmer months so I’ve added some classics to the shop which would be perfect for dresses and shirts…

What are your favourite spring/ summer fabrics? are you tempted by the brights or favor a classic colour palette?

Whatever you choose we are sure you will love them as much as we do! We are uploading some really lovely double gauze, viscose jersey, and canvas over the next week or so so keep those eyes peeled!

Happy Shopping!

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?

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?

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?