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?

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!

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 😉

‘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

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

 

Pink and lilac gingham Seren dress

As soon as I laid eyes on the pink and lilac gingham fabrics that Sammy newly stocked a couple of months ago, I knew I needed a picnic blanket dress of dreams!

Gingham is very much my jam but i’ve always stuck to safe old black and white…a classic. But, these colours filled me with so much joy I quickly snapped up 1.5 metres of each planning some kind of mash up of both colours. This is really great quality cotton, it’s soft and brilliant to work with.

 

 

(I talk about my plans and inspiration in another blog post so I won’t go into too much detail but there were a few pictures on Pinterest that inspired me…  read my gingham plans post here)

I loved the idea of a button down dress that was fitted at the waist and so i thought a Seren Dress (Tilly and the Buttons) hack with tie detail straps would be perfect!

 

Instead of cutting the bodice back and skirt on the fold I cut the pieces individually and stitched them together so the skirt is pink and purple on the back and the front and the top is the same…rather like a battenberg cake!

I used these gorgeous four holed enamel buttons to top off this sugar coated dress! They come in four different sizes and pink or black options…I’ll definitely be using the black ones at the earliest opportunity!

I’m still considering adding some big patch pockets to the skirt front and making a matching bag…better get on that before the summer is gone!

 

Do you love gingham? What would you make with this pretty cotton?
 
Debbie x

Planning my pastel gingham dress of dreams!

As soon as Sammy uploaded these new gingham cottons to the shop I was all over them like a rash! I’ve always loved gingham and these pastel colours are so happy, summery and pretty and I want to make all my dresses out of them!

My first instinct was to make a Tilly and the Buttons Seren dress with tie straps and patch pockets using a mixture of these two pastel beauties…and to be honest that’s probably exactly what I will do…but I also started searching Instagram and Pinterest for more inspiration and came across some amazing dresses that would also work brilliantly. So here is my run down of the best gingham styles to replicate this summer…

The dress on the left with it’s square neckline and slit detail sleeves reminded me of the By Hand London Jenna dress. This pattern could easily be hacked to omit the back zip and instead create a full placket at the front and lengthen the skirt.

The middle picture with its shirt style top and tierred skirt could be replicated with the McCall’s M7351 by adding a frill to the front bodice and using four tiers of fabric to create the skirt.

The simple sundress on the far right is a classic way to use gingham and looks so pretty paired with a beaded bag and some strappy sandals. You could get this look using the Avid Seamstress Sundress pattern

I absoloutely love the combination of a few different ginghams to create a fun modern look and will probably make myself a (another) Sew Liberated Hinterland dress or a By Hand London Hannah dress out of gingham for the winter but perhaps in a darker colour.

Whatever style I go for though, I know I’ll have a fun dress, perfect for picnics and sunny days out as gingham never goes out of style!

…and I’ll definitely be making myself a matching bag to go with it too!

Do you love gingham or does it give you school summer dress vibes? 

What would you make?

I’ll keep you posted with my make…better get to it before the summer is gone!

Debbie x