Gingham dreams!

Vintage style ruffle dress project...

 
I have been dreaming of giant gingham for a long time. I’m not sure what started it but I thought it would be a super cute dress when I found the perfect fabric. When I saw this fabric on Samantha Claridge online I knew it was for me, but I NEVER sew dull fabrics especially not black fabrics! After I wrestled with myself a little while I settle on the black and white gingham because I thought I could spice it up a bit with the pattern I used.

I planned on making the Jennifer Lauren handmade Mayberry dress so thought I would use awesome big buttons, but when the fabric arrived I knew I had to reconsider. The fabric arrived with a much thicker texture than I was expecting. It’s got a lovely linen feel to it but with a bit most structure, and less wrinkles too! I thought I would find a dress with a big full skirt and make something really vintage but with the checks being directional I wasn’t sure how that would make my shape look.

Then I saw the Alice & co free pattern in partnership with the V&A. It’s a pattern based on one of Mary Quants dresses to celebrate the exhibition on at the moment at the V&A. The fabric was perfect for the ruffles making them stand up around the neck and fluff out at the elbows, so I made a decision!

This project has almost turned into a zero waste one too! I cut out all my pieces and realised I didn’t have enough fabric to make the skirt three times the width so only made it twice. The only fabric I had left was a small section big enough for pockets, maybe on this dress in the future!

 

The checks made making the pleats super easy as I just used the squares as reference folding the over neatly. I’ve never pleated so much before, and the instructions tell you how to use a form to measure your pleats, which sounded terrifying so I was glad I had the squares already there to use. I had to top stitch the sleeve ruffles down as they were so fluffy they were flouncing in the wrong direction but I think that says more about my elbows than the fabric..! ha!

This fabric is super easy to wash and wear too as I was worried the linen feel would leave it wrinkly. Luckily I washed it and just hug it to dry and didn’t have to do any more to it. The pleats stayed lovely and the bodice didn’t crease so it’s perfect for perhaps packing in a bag or wearing all day and still looking smart at the end of the day!

 

I recently wore this dress to our new nephews christening, and I got lots of compliments. The wrap over front is very flattering on me and the smallest part of the waist hits me just at the right point. I didn’t make any adjustments to the pattern and just made it as it was which was perfect for me. It has a fully lines bodice too, which made it feel even fancier, but helped it come together surprisingly easily!

 

Whilst this dress isn’t the vintage era I’d normally gravitate towards (normally 40’s and 50’s) I think it was a perfect pairing to this fabric and made me a lovely outfit for the christening which I can now wear again and again to the office and know I’ll be smart and comfy!

Costa Tote

Handy Tote!

This month I thought I’d give my wardrobe a break and make the Helen’s Closet Costa Tote. This is a pattern she released recently which you can get for free if you sign up to her newsletter. It is a lined, reversible tote bag with large pockets and shoulder straps, and there’s nothing I like more than a big bag to hold all my ‘essentials’, you know, purse, phone, wet wipes, kids toys, emergency snacks! 

I thought I’d use this beautiful cotton denim chambray  for the outside and line it with a bright rainbow triangles cotton. Then I had the idea to embellish the pockets with a bit of embroidery because, well, why not??!! 
 
When I received my fabric I couldn’t believe how soft they both were. I don’t think I’ve ever worked with chambray before but, oh my goodness, I’ll definitely be using it again! It’s sooooo smooth and buttery to touch and drapes wonderfully. I can see a button down shirt dress in this! And the triangles cotton was also beautiful, I just loved the colours and could see this as a Kalle shirt!
Anyhoo, it wasn’t long before the fabric was cut out and I was thinking about starting my embroidery. I chose colours to compliment the lining and took inspiration from an image I’d seen on Pinterest, but mostly doodled my own design. 
 
I wasn’t sure how to transfer my design onto the fabric. I thought a fabric pencil wouldn’t give me a crisp enough line and I didn’t have any transfer paper to hand. I’m sure there are lots of ways to do it but I went with a plain old biro! I embroidered outside of the lines so you can’t see them.
 
See that little yellow button below? Well I decided I didn’t like it so I unpicked it and used a different technique.
 
I think I need to clarify here that I am clearly not an expert in hand embroidery! That’s plain to see! It’s not as neat as I’d like but I wasn’t going to rip it all out and start again! The whole piece took me a couple of evenings to complete and once that was done I could start constructing the bag. 
 

The instructions are brilliant, just what you’d expect from Helen’s Closet. I tweaked my bag slightly as I decided to line the pockets to protect the back of the embroidery. I also put a small pocket on the inside. It all came together in a  couple of hours and is a really sturdy bag, deep with good sized pockets, and what seamstress doesn’t like a pocket, right??!! I’ve already used it loads and think I’ll be making a few more of these as gifts.

Selfless Sewing

Back to school skirt!

Hi again

I’m back refreshed after the summer break and head full of sewing plans for the coming months.  Okay, my head works faster than my sewing I admit but hey who cares, you have to plan right??

My September make is actually a selfless sew as it’s for my youngest daughter, Mia.  Completely inspired on a shopping trip prior to her going back to school in the 6th Form as she is now able to wear her own clothes so, you know, obviously everything has to be bang “on trend” (rolls eyes!!).  I’d actually been eyeing up this fabric on Sammy’s website but there was only a metre left and I wasn’t sure if that would be enough for a skirt for myself so I put it to the back of my mind.  Then, on said shopping trip, Mia picked up a skirt in almost identical colour but they didn’t have her size! Cue mum to the rescue me thinks!!

 I pitched the idea of the Tilly and the Buttons Ness Skirt which was almost exactly the same as what she was looking at and even though the pattern needed more than a metre I was pretty confident I’d manage with a metre for Mia’s skirt as she’s happy to wear them a lot shorter than I am!.  I opted to make the mini version.

She seemed totally on board with my idea so I quickly messaged Sam and asked for 1m of the Rose Cord (now out of stock but available in Green, brown and yellow) and also ½ metre of the Figo Rolleken Sketch Squares for the pocket bags.  I also chose the “match my thread” option and I’m not sure how many people have used this option but wow it’s a game changer. No more thinking it might match…. it blooming well does….perfectly!  That perfect in fact that it was hard to see the thread when I inevitably needed to use my best friend, the unpicker!

When the fabric arrived oh my word it was just so soft and lovely.  I couldn’t wait to get started on it. It actually comes together quite quickly and is a pleasant make.  Both the cord and cotton fabrics pre washed and pressed beautifully although I was careful when pressing on the front of the cord.  I didn’t want any marks and I’m happy to report pressing didn’t leave any! I struggled to find a zip in the exact same colour as the cord but fortunately due to the fly it’s not visible so I settled for as near as I could get which is just a shade lighter but as it matches the pocket bags, I’m not too upset with it.

I had toyed with the idea of using poppers instead of the button and buttonhole (don’t ask me why but I always hold my breath when doing buttonholes!  Unjustified too as I’ve never had any problems doing buttonholes on my Pfaff!) but decided after doing a couple of test buttonholes on a scrap of fabric that I would bite the bullet and put a proper jeans button on them.  I knew in my stash I had some with a cute little rose gold star in the middle and Mia being a fan of almost anything rose gold, knew she’d love it! As I usually do, I put fray check on the buttonhole and once this had dried I opened it up using my Clover buttonhole chisel.  This makes life so much easier than trying to do it with the unpicker and scissors. Definitely worth investing in if you don’t already own one!.

I made a size 8 and it fit her perfectly without any alterations.  I would have loved to have gone to town on the pockets doing a bit of embroidery or fancy top stitching but, you know, kids eh!!  Maybe I’ll make another one for me where I can go a little bit more wild.

Whilst sewing up this skirt, I was dreaming up a pair of trousers a bit like maybe the Closet Case Ginger Jeans or Megan Nielson Ash/Dawn in some of this gorgeous cord fabric.  I reckon whatever you make in this cord will look absolutely fab. Gorgeous colour and fab quality. I’d highly recommend getting your little mitts on some to wear this autumn/winter!

It’s safe to say that Mia loves her new skirt as its on trend with what’s in the shops at the minute right down to the fabric and style and even better that unlike the shop bought ones, it fits perfectly everywhere rather than hips or waist not both!  I can see more cord purchases coming on!.

Thanks for reading!

Happy stitching

Lisa x

@sewlastminuteLisa

An Autumn Tunic

Kathrine's Autumn tunic

As soon as I saw this gorgeous jersey on Samantha’s site, I knew I had to make something from it. I toyed with various ideas but finally decided on a tunic for Autumn. I like the Tilly and the Buttons Coco but really wanted a straighter silhouette, I also like the details of the Coco Wawa Chestnut but find the shape a bit boxy.

I decided to try this pattern which came free with one of the sewing magazines as I wanted a simple shape to allow the fabric to take centre stage. Sam found me some lovely copper ribbon to tone with the bees and the detail on the flowers.

I decided on view C which has a longer back than front, but I lengthened the sleeves as my arms are always cold in autumn/winter!

The pattern came together easily, the only alteration I made was to shorten the back slightly so that there is less of a difference between the back and the front. I used my overlocker for main seams and my regular machine for hems, bias binding and top stitching. The fabric is soft to touch but holds its shape and doesn’t stretch out at all. 

I cut the back with a centre back seam as I wanted to incorporate a tie detail at the top. I love the way the copper ribbon looks against the fabric. 

I have tried the tunic on with several garments; jeans, navy trousers, culottes, a short denim skirt and a longer pencil skirt. I think it’s going to get a lot of wear as the weather gets cooler.

Pram Liner

Summer holiday project!

Do you ever feel in a sewing rut, where you can’t face doing ANOTHER dart or hem anything? Sometimes you need a simple kickstarter project, just like this one was for me. 

In this months blog I made a pram liner for my best friend who was going on holiday! The pram she uses for taking away has always been great as it folds small and had a fleecy liner with a muff to keep little Thomas warm, but this time they were going somewhere warm on holiday! The pram without the liner had a funky wipe clean base, which is great for keeping it clean and free from toddler mess but not so great if you want to keep said toddler cool and calm.

I decided to help out with this predicament and make a new cotton liner for the pram keeping him cool but also putting some fun into the pram with the great patterned fabric available at Samantha Claridge Studios. I chose this jungle print fabric with is 100% cotton so perfect for what I needed it to be. My friend kindly lent me the fleece liner as well so that I could copy the placement for straps also.

I laid the fabric out and cut round the fleece liner giving me an oblong shape, and made sure I marked where all the strap holes were. I cut out some wadding to be the same size and sandwiched it with the two pieces of cotton. I used my quilting pins to keep the sandwich together whilst I created the strap holes.

To do this I marked the length and width the needed to be and used a very small zig zag. I turned my feed dogs off and made sure I had a good handle of the fabric with my quilting gloves (they are actually builders gloves but they are extra grippy!) I went round each strap location creating a giant button whole which I could cut out to allow the strap and buckles to poke through.

Once all the button holes were completed I overlocked all around the edges. I will bind the edges of this when she gets back from holiday with bias binding but I ran out of time before she flew, typical Rudy always last minute sewing!

My friend said it was perfect for holiday as the 100% cotton kept Thomas cool and it kept the moisture away from his skin, stopping him from getting uncomfortable and grumpy.

I love the pattern on this fabric too, it’s perfect for children’s makes as it has lots of different animals for them to spot out and the repetitions means the pattern is busy enough for you not to notice spills and stains!

Cosy Makes…

Autumn jersey knit project

Hey there, its Chatterstitch here back on the blog for the Samantha Claridge Studio, to tell you all about my latest design team make!

For my September blog post I asked Sammy for some of this gorgeous French Terry backed Jersey in mint. I don’t think you can fully appreciate the colour of this fabric just from my images, it really is lovely. The mint is the most delicate shade!

I don’t know about you but as the summer slips into autumn my mind is turning to cosy makes and I thought this jersey would be absolutely gorgeous made into a Tilly and the Buttons Coco top.

I have made the Coco before but only as the dress, which I love. But as I always seem to reach for jeans and skirts, so I really wanted to make this into a snuggly top which I could pair with my favourite jeans or a denim skirt over soft tights and my favourite leather boots.

 

The French Terry backed Jersey in Mint is a generous 150cm wide so great value for money, and the fabric composition is 95% cotton with 5% elastane so has great recovery whist being almost completely natural fibres so warm, but breathable!

As soon as my fabric arrived, I popped it through the wash at 30°C and dried it on the washing line.

Then once dry I quickly pressed it and cut my Coco out.

The Tilly and the Buttons Coco, like all the Tilly patterns is great and it makes up super quickly, this actually took me only an afternoon!

The only alteration I made to the standard instructions was to half interface the funnel neck.   I find this helps to keep the neck up a bit more than normal, as it does tend to flop about when not interfaced.

I really love my Coco made from this French terry backed jersey it’s so soft and warm and the colour is absolutely lovely. I can honestly see this being in constant rotation through the autumn and winter!

I think if I had not chosen to make my Coco then it would have made great joggers or a cardigan. Maybe the Kinder or Blackwood cardi.

It would also make great children’s wear, or maybe a nice cosy hoody??

 

That’s all for now, I really hope you like my Coco, I know I do!
Till next time, keep Chatting and Stitching, Carol 

Autumn wardrobe staple

The Jamie Cardigan

So, you know when you find yourself down an Instagram rabbit hole and come across a pattern or garment and you think it immediately has to go to the top of your sewing list?! Well this is what happened to me a couple of months ago! I found the Ready to Sew Jamie Cardigan and fell in love! I love the slouchy style and, of course, the big pockets, and I think it’s something that could be dressed up or down. Despite my self imposed pattern purchasing ban I decided I just had to have this cardigan in readiness for the autumn and  spent some of my birthday pennies on it. I’ve also been keeping my eye on this amazing giant leopard print jersey – we all know how I feel about animal print, now, don’t we?! So when it came to choosing my next #scdesignteam project it was as if the stars had aligned!

The cardigan comes in two options – view 1 is hip length with long sleeves and patch pockets and view 2 falls at the waist with slightly shorter sleeves. They are quite economical with fabric with the longer version only taking 1.5m so this was the one I decided to go for to make the most of my fabric. 

Jamie cardigan pattern

I was very excited to use my new overlocker skills and constructed the majority of the cardi on the overlocker. This made it super quick to make. The pockets aren’t very neatly sewn on as the machine struggled at the corners with the multiple layers of fabric, but nobody will notice that except me. There were a couple of parts that slowed me down, one was the gathering of the sleeves to attach the cuff. For some reason my long straight stitch just wouldn’t gather in this fabric so I ended up removing it and hand sewing my gathering stitch which worked absolutely fine in the end. And the button holes were a bit of a nightmare because the thread kept breaking half way through and I had to unpick the whole thing and start again… at least three times! 

But despite these issues I absolutely love it and need to make the short version now! The fabric is gorgeous and soft and the perfect weight for the kind of project. And it’s quite a statement piece in this fabric! And that just makes me love it more! Nothing like a bit of leopard print to jazz up a pair on jeans! The day I took these photos it was 26 degrees outside, but two weeks before on my rainy summer hols in Cornwall it was a lovely cover up in the evenings when it got a little chilly. Initially it seemed a bit odd to be making this in August but I think it’s going to be the first thing I reach for whenever I want an extra layer.
 

Green Jersey Ruska Tunic

A wardrobe staple with Lucy Hannah...

One of the sewing books I’m obsessed with at the moment is Named Clothing ‘breaking the Pattern’. I got it for Christmas and I’ve made so many things out of it this year! The Ruska pattern is my go-to for t-shirts at the moment, but one variation of the pattern I hadn’t tried yet was the Tunic dress. I want to build up a selection of clothes that are comfy for working from home in, but also look nice if I need to jump on a Skype call. So I figured the Ruska Tunic paired with a lovely jersey could be just what I’m looking for.

Samantha Claridge Studio has so many lovely jersey fabrics on the website and i couldn’t resist the Bottle Green Bellissima Jersey It’s such a lovely colour! When I was ordering I took advantage of the thread matching service, it’s always a worry when ordering fabric online that you’ll choose a thread based on a photo but it won’t be quite right against your fabric when you get it, but the thread matching service makes it easy. The thread I got was a perfect match! The Bellissima jersey itself is a beautiful fabric. I got so excited when I opened my parcel and got my hands on the fabric. It’s super soft, such great quality and has a lovely drape. It’s softness would make it great for children’s wear or loungewear.

 

The Ruska tunic is a much looser fitted garment than the style I normally go of so I made a toile out of some jersey I had in my stash, and it seemed to fit fine, so I went right ahead and cut it out of my bottle green jersey. I chose the medium length sleeve, and accidentally sewed the side seams of the tunic before I’d attached the sleeves so just sewed them as set in sleeves which worked fine. I love a bit of top stitching so finished the neckline off with a row of stitches. I like the added detail it gives and I find necklines sit a bit better for me when they’re topstitched. I used a twin needle to hem the tunic and sleeves – and this is where having the right colour thread really makes your garments look well made.

Once it was finished I felt like the split up the front of the tunic was a bit high for me so I closed the opening by about 2 inches with a zigzag stitch. My husband wasn’t too sure about the dress at first, he’s used to seeing me in prints so I think a solid colour and the fact it was looser than my normal style kind of put him off. I had a little wobble at first when he didn’t like it ( I thought it was lovely!) and I ended up taking about 2 inches off the waist, and actually, he was right. With a bit more shape to the waist it’s much more me!

The Bellissima Jersey was an absolute treat to work with. It was easy to cut and sew so it made the project really quick. It’s a lovely texture against the skin and has kept it’s softness after washing. I need to think up some more ideas for the other colours now! The mustard version is gorgeous!

Transitional dungarees

Romy's summer to Autumn overalls...

When I was deciding what to make for my July blog post I thought it’d be good to make something that would suit the indecisive British weather where it can often be cool and hot in the same week.

I then experienced 42 degrees on a trip to Paris followed by torrential thunderstorms and 18 degree weather back in the UK! 

Luckily my July make is pretty versatile so I’ll be able to wear it all through the unpredictable summer and into autumn.

I recently purchased the Helen’s Closet Yanta Overalls after seeing versions popping up on Instagram. I probably wouldn’t have chosen it a couple of years ago but this summer I’ve been really into jumpsuits and trousers and thought it looked really comfy. I had seen the Indigo Chambray Denim on the website and thought that would make a lovely, light version and after checking with Sam that it was the right weight, I decided to go ahead with it. 

The package arrived wrapped up very nicely as usual and after prewashing and cutting out my pattern I started sewing. I even remembered to wind an extra bobbin at the beginning as I always end up running out mid-seam and swearing at my machine.
 
I chose to make a size 16 as this fitted my measurements, and I thought it was better to go big and take it in than for it to be too tight around my hips and not be able to sit down. The pattern gives you information on how to adjust the fit depending on your size and how to solve common fitting issues, which is helpful. 

 

 

I overlocked the inside seams to keep it neat and the bib is enclosed with a facing so looks very tidy on the inside. I am always looking for opportunities to use scraps from my stash so went with this sweet shop print for the facing. It’s not exactly subtle and you can see a peek of it from the outside but it makes me happy when I see it so I don’t care!

The construction was fairly simple, if a little time consuming and fiddly with the topstitching and making pockets. I decided just to go with the chest pocket for simplicity but there are also front and back hip height pockets included. I attached the chest pocket upside down as I wasn’t sold on the triangle top style on the pattern, and think I prefer it that way.

I was planning on making the straps longer and tying them in a knot as it’s a look I’ve seen quite a lot with RTW jumpsuits, but when I found these two buttons in my stash I thought it would be a shame not to use them. I think they came in a mixed button bag from the Sewing Weekender; it’s always satisfying to find the perfect buttons in my stash, especially when they’re quite unusual.

The finished overalls did end up being too loose at the waist for my liking. I have a small waist compared to my hips so think having that area too wide doesn’t flatter my shape. I ended up taking 10cm off the waist and grading out at the hips, then tapering the legs down to the ankle and am happy with the fit. I foolishly didn’t add a side zip as I thought I could wriggle it on easily enough, but it is a bit snug and the side seams have started to pull slightly as it’s a lightweight fabric, so next time I’ll definitely add one. 

I haven’t actually hemmed the trousers yet as I couldn’t decide between a normal hem and the turn up look that many people have gone with, but think I prefer the plain hem I’ve gone for here. I was tempted to turn it into a playsuit for warmer weather but think I’ll get more wear out of it like this, especially paired with a long sleeved t-shirt in cooler months.
 
I’d definitely recommend this fabric for a light jumpsuit or trousers; it’s really cool and comfortable on warmer days and enough coverage for breezy weather, and sews up really easily. 
 

Another Blackwood Cardigan

Kathrine's favourite wardrobe staple...

The Blackwood Cardigan pattern from Helen’s closet is one of my favourite sewing patterns. I’ve made several in different colours and prints, I don’t think you can have too many as they are a real wardrobe staple. In my previous versions I’ve stuck very much to the pattern for the longer length cardigan with patch pockets, apart from a cropped one I made from a small remnant of quilted jersey. That one has more of a Chanel jacket feel about it. Depending on the fabric the cardigan can have a casual or a smarter more blazer look to it. I love the versatility of the pattern.

For my latest sewing project I fancied a looser slouchier feel in a warm sweatshirt type jersey. Originally I had my eye on an indigo French Terry but when it was out of stock Samantha suggested this lovely mint green, flecked with lilac. It’s tricky to see the true colours in a photo but it’s very pretty. The fabric is beautifully soft but stable enough to hold it’s shape.

In order to create the looser look I wanted I decided to cut out the D cup pattern instead of the B cup I’d used previously. I also increased the front band by a third to make it cosier and cut large sloping pockets which go into the side and front seams. Nice big pockets for cold hands!

I started sewing this lovely warm fabric on the 29th July when the temperature outside was 29 degrees-perfect!

As usual the pattern came together very quickly without any issues and the fabric was easy to sew. I used my overlocker for the main seams and then my regular machine for the rest. I never use the cuff bands, so I do add a little extra length to the sleeves and just turn a small hem as it’s less bulky under jackets and coats and easier to push the sleeves up if I want to.

I top stitched the seams around the front band and hem band to give a neat finish and it helps to keep the bands in place. I love my bigger pockets; this will be something I repeat on future versions. I’m pleased I only increased the front band by a third as it’s just enough to make the collar at the back of my neck really cosy, I think double would be too much.

I finished my cardigan in a couple of hours on the same day but due to the heatwave it’s been worn ever since by Madeline, my mannequin (or body double as my OH has named her).

 

This weekend I finally managed to get some photos whilst wearing it. It is a great cosy layer for evenings at my caravan when the east wind picks up. Please bear in mind these photos were taken at the end of a beach day, so I look a little windswept!