Hi-Lo top

Alison's fabulous summer cover up!

 
For my second project for the Samantha Claridge Studio blog (previously Sew Crafty Design Team) I thought I’d go for a garment this time and chose the Pattern Emporium Make it Happen Hi-lo top. I won this pattern back in March when it was released and I’ve been itching to make it ever since, but it’s not particularly UK winter appropriate (PE is an Australian brand)! But I figured that if I wait for a sunny day I could be waiting a long time! Turns out we’ve had a few good ones lately!

First off, I would absolutely recommend this company. I love this pattern and most Pattern Emporium patterns I’ve seen have multiple options which is great as it gives you so much variety for different styles. This top comes in three different lengths, two different back versions, 3 sleeve options, two neckline heights and two front lengths… phew! I went for the high neck, one piece back, maxi length with dolman sleeves and regular front length. This required 2.5 metres of woven fabric so I chose the blush leopard stretch cotton because, well, I couldn’t resist an animal print!

The pattern consists of two pieces with an additional sleeve overlay and a piece for making the neck binding. Simple!
 
The fabric washed and ironed well. Being cotton it cut like butter! It’s not a heavy cotton and it has a decent drape to it. It’s also got a sight sateen-like sheen to it which makes it feel lovely but I wouldn’t describe it as a ‘stretch’ fabric as it’s only got 3% elastane and this doesn’t really give it any stretch just a little bit of give.
 

The instructions are brilliant and the top came together really quickly, in only a couple of hours, and most of that was spent at the ironing board doing the bound neckline and turning up the miles of hemline! But the fabric was beautiful to sew and did what it was told when ironed! I would have liked to finish the insides with french seams but the seam allowance was only 1cm so I just zig zagged the exposed seams to neaten them up. My only negative comment about that pattern was that there was a fair amount of fabric waste because of the way the main pieces were cut on the fold, but I’ve obviously saved the remnants and can probably piece together something for my daughter at a later date.

Please excuse the windy day photos! I love the finished look, it feels a bit ‘extra’ with it being so long and flowy – I’ve even had a few comments in the school playground! And the fabric helps! I’m really looking forward to wearing it when we get some warmer weather but in the mean time I might make a couple more!

Jenny’s updated underwear!

Jenny's new undies!

I did a bit of spring cleaning recently and had a bit of a clear out of my underwear drawer. You know those ones you keep because they’re mega comfy but actually really ugly? The ones you’ll ‘diet back in to’? The ones you bought because they were really pretty but somehow give you 4 bum cheeks where they cut in? I threw them all out. As it turns out, that didn’t leave me with many cute pairs of knickers so for my next SC Design Team make I decided to make myself so new ones!

My go-to pattern for knickers is the Acacia pattern from Megan Neilsen. This pattern is a freebie if you sign up for her newsletter, but if you would prefer not to subscribe you can purchase the pattern for £7.50. The pattern is for a low rise bikini cut knicker and gives instructions for 3 different elastic application techniques. It’s also a quick and easy sew. I cut a size Large based on measurements but I’ve altered my pattern slightly for a little less coverage on my butt to be a slightly more flattering shape for my body.

I wanted to make a few pairs of undies so I ordered half a metre of 6 different fabrics! I ordered a red spotted stretch mesh and matching jersey, a neon orange and turquoise floral stretch lace and neon jersey and a white stretch lace, as well as coordinating fold over elastic.

The spotted red mesh is really lovely, great stretch and good recovery too. The jersey is a good weight with enough stretch for undies, but I think would be really nice for t-shirts too. I chose a pinky red colour fold over elastic, and while it’s not quite a perfect match, it compliments the cherry red of the mesh nicely!

The orange and turquoise stretch lace was nice to sew with – the grey and turquoise floral design helps tone down some of the ‘orange-ness’ of the neon and I think could actually be really wearable as a layered pencil skirt or even a dress over a slip. I chose a grey fold over elastic for this pair as I wanted again to help tone down the bright neon of the jersey. The jersey is very vivid but it’s great quality. Neon orange isn’t typically a colour I can wear as I’m quite fair but I think you can get away with most wild prints and colours in undies and pyjamas!

The white stretch lace is so pretty, but doesn’t have quite as much stretch and recovery as the other ones I chose. As I’d chosen to use fold over elastic, I think the recovery issue won’t be a problem as the elastic will keep them where they’re supposed to be! The green and purple design is so pretty, and because this is a bit more of a delicate look I used the lace for the front and the back as well as the outer layer of the gusset. I used a scrap of white cotton jersey for the gusset lining as it’s always best to have natural fibres in delicate areas.

I used a zigzag stitch to attach the fold over elastic, going slowly to make sure I didn’t miss any raw edges, as even though none of these fabrics fray I wanted the raw edges to be neatly enclosed in the elastic. I pre-washed all 6 fabrics and didn’t notice any shrinkage but would recommend that you use a colour catcher for pre-washing the red jersey as it gave up a little bit of colour. 

As this pattern uses very little fabric it’s a great scrap buster – I’ve got plenty of fabric left over to make at least 6 more pairs in various combinations. A little bit of a good fabric can go a long way!

Summer dresses should BEE bold!

Marsha makes a statement with her summer dress!

The British summer is now finally upon us, and it’s time to wear those lovely summer dresses we’ve been making while we dream about the sun.

I love to stand out, it’s one thing that draws me to making my own clothes. It means I can be as loud as I wish and choose fabrics that represent me. 

When planning my blog post this month, I wanted a fun make that would help brighten the mood while we waited for the sun. I had seen this amazing Glow Lily Organic cotton jersey in black while looking for last month’s fabric and I just knew I would be making something with it in the future as its very me. I am obsessed with bees, but since the great British sewing bee, who isn’t in love with bees in the sewing world

I have been planning a Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress in jersey fabric for a while. I made the Bettine in woven fabric a while ago and it’s a great go to basic beginners’ pattern but I never see that as a draw back. I sew a pattern because I love the style and not if it’s at my sewing level. I find with every make, even on the easier patterns, you will learn something new. Either with techniques or with fitting issues or down to learning about a fabric. 

Bettine is a woven dress pattern for those that aren’t familiar with the pattern. Its relaxed style with the elastic waist casing, means it transfers to jersey fabric really well. I did my research before starting and read Tilly’s tips on turning Bettine into a jersey dress.

The only change in the pattern is the facings. I worked with jersey and instead of facing the bodice neckline, you make a neckband. Tilly’s blog gave the measurements for the neckband for each size but I already knew how to make my own if needed. When making a neckband you measure the length of the neck opening, you cut a 2 inch wide strip and use 75% of the neck opening as your length. This then gives you enough stretch to make your neckband fit nicely. When picking your fabric keep in mind the stretch and recovery, if your main fabric doesn’t have a 30 / 40% stretch and excellent recovery you will need to pick a contrasting fabric.

I followed the Bettine pattern, apart from the neckband. Tilly suggests you use the “Agnes” top pattern instructions for how to attach the neckband. I have made the Agnes before but I have used alternative methods from other patterns that I am more comfortable with so went with that method instead. I used 3/8” seam allowance for the band instead of 5/8” as I like my neckband a little wider. When stretching the band to fit the neckline, I mark the band with clips at the centre front and back and then again in-between those. This helps with stretching the band evenly. Then I mark the centre, front and back on the bodice with clips. I then find the middle point between those two markings. The easiest way to do this, is by bringing the centre and back markings together then the two outside ends are your in-between markings. Note that these markings will not be the shoulder seam. You have four even marks to match up with the neckband when stretching the neckband to fit. It’s a method that works really well for me and I find my neckbands turn out perfect using this method. 

I used my walking foot for the very first time on jersey fabric with this make. I had it set up from a previous project, and thought it would be a great time to give it a go. I top stitched my neckband with a twin needle and the walking foot and I must say this is my best neckband I have ever done. The only changes to the pattern I made were that I sized down from a size 4 in the bodice half to a 3 in the skirt pattern. I did this by tapering in at the hips. I made my woven Bettine in this sizing a while ago and thought I would see how the jersey would work. As it’s more relaxed, I feel that on my next jersey Bettine I could just make a plain size 3 as the bodice is a little roomy.



 

I had fun working out the placement of the bees because I didn’t want them to be the centre focus point due to their large scale. The floral pattern is what I wanted to use as my centre focus which I feel then allows the bees to blend in. I am very pleased with the overall outcome of this dress. I am already planning another but this fabric what can I say, I want it navy now. I also have my eyes on the other bee prints. I can see a burgundy bee Bettine with tights and boots working well in the winter. The drape on this fabric is lovely and it’s so soft to wear. It’s bold, bright and fun but that’s what summer is about.

I have my parents over from Australia at the moment, so I am off to go enjoy the sunshine with them while it lasts and hide my sewing room from my mum making sure my fabric stash doesn’t go walking into her suitcase.

Until next time, “Bee” bold and have fun with your fabric!

 

Steph’s Peasant dress

Steph shares with us her peasant dress project and why it's so important to her...

Over the last few years I have developed more of an affinity for trousers or leggings than dresses, largely due to my changing body shape, but the need for abdominal surgery very soon has made me realise i need more dresses in my life…

 

 

After years of pain and hideous symptoms I was recently diagnosed with Endometriosis of the womb and bowel, and at the end of July I will be having major surgery to remove my womb, ovaries and a small portion of my bowel. This means a lot of resting, recovering, and – much to my horror – no jeans or leggings for several weeks as they’ll rub on my scars and stitches. 

Now don’t get me wrong – i love dresses. Just not on me. I’m short and dumpy, and incredibly conscious of my legs and stomach, and there are only a few styles of dress that really suit me. A dress shopping trip left me feeling anxious, frumpy and deeply uncomfortable, so I knew the only way to solve this was with something me-made.

As I was glancing through Samantha Claridge Studio’s incredible array of fabrics (which is very much a regular pastime, even when I dont have a project in mind!) a beautiful pale blue viscose with a pink and white floral print caught my eye and I knew that it would be absolutely perfect for something light and floaty. I have always loved peasant dresses and tops, and they fit the bill for what I’d need post-surgery: empire line, nice and loose, and should be cool and comfortable in the summer heat.

Peasant dresses are actually fairly simple to make without a premade pattern, and i have seen many really lovely ones that are actually just made from 4 rectangles (2 large ones for the back and front, and 2 smaller ones for the sleeves). The magic ingredient to this dress is in fact basic elastic.

I used just plain white narrow elastic in the neckline and under the bust to draw in all the excess fabric and create a nice silhouette. I also added a bit of elastic in the sleeves to make them a little puffier at the top. The end result was the first dress I have actually loved and felt utterly comfortable wearing in YEARS. The fabric is so soft and feminine, and the big floaty sleeves give the dress that little bit extra drama. I loved it so much I even wore it to a friends wedding and I was very proud when people asked me where i got such a beautiful dress that i was able to say ‘I made it myself’.

Whilst this dress started out as a need for a post-surgery outfit, I think it will become a wardrobe staple of mine for quite some time to come. Who knows – maybe this might just be the start of a new love for wearing dresses. 

It’s a wrap!

Romy shares her gorgeous jersey dress project...

 
 
 
 
Hello again! I can’t believe we’re already at the Beginning of August! It doesn’t seem five minutes since I was trying to pick my project for May!  
 
 

 

 

 

As soon as I saw this fabric on Instagram, I knew I had to have some…

I loved the striking print with the beautiful flowers and bees (very on trend at the moment, it seems!) and thought it would work well with a pattern I recently decided I had to have, the Kielo Wrap Dress by Named Clothing (pictured on the left). This is one of those patterns that I’ve been seeing around blogs and Instagram for ages but haven’t really fancied making until recently. I thought that it wouldn’t suit my shape, but after seeing lots of examples on lots of body types, I realised that it’s a great one for curvy bodies as the waist tie enables you to decide how loose or fitted you want it.

So the fabric arrived and I definitely was not disappointed. It is stunning. And once again I forgot to get any pictures of the lovely parcel before it went in the wash and was then cut out. The fabric washed really nicely with no fading, and the print is nice and big so the details really stand out. I didn’t attempt to pattern match and as long as you don’t have a lot of seams or panels I don’t think you need to worry about it. The Kielo is great because it gives you a big expanse of fabric to show off large prints.
 
When cutting out I did check where the pieces were on the fabric to make I didn’t have any unfortunate print placement (I’ve made the mistake of beheading animals on fabric before now!) and am pleased with how it came out. The fabric is a lovely, medium weight jersey – not too drapey or too stiff, though it did make for a more structured Kielo than if you used a very draped jersey, but I liked how it turned out.
Sewing the fabric was a breeze. I used my overlocker for most of it, only using my sewing machine to twin needle the neck and hems. I didn’t interface the waist ties as the pattern calls for as it’s a thicker jersey, and I think it turned out ok, though you would definitely want to use interfacing on a lighter fabric. I did use the flexible seam tape to stabilise the neck and stop it stretching, although once you’ve ironed it on it has no stretch at all, so bear that in mind if you want that area on your garment to still have a bit of give. I had intended to cut the neck narrower than the pattern as I have quite narrow shoulders, but I forgot. It is a bit too wide and tends to gape so I might see if I can add a bra strap holder to keep the neckband sitting where I want it to. Next time I might try adding a neckband too to stop any gaping.
 
 

I decided to make the sleeved version of the Kielo which comes as a free add-on, as I wanted a more formal look. The pattern and tutorial on their website is pretty easy to follow, though next time I might try to use another top pattern that I know fits me well, just so I can avoid the wide neck problem again. I also shortened the dress as I thought this fabric might be too heavy for a maxi. I made a bit of a hash of shortening it so the hem is a bit wonky, but if you just cut straight across at the length you want that should work fine, I just overcomplicated things!

I was in love with my dress as soon as I tried it on, and wore it two days later to a job interview, which tells you how much I liked it! Sorry I don’t have more pictures; my phone helpfully deleted half the ones I took during an update so this is all I have, but you can see how gorgeous the fabric is which is the most important thing.
 
So that’s my second project finished, and onto the next! I’m hoping to try another pattern that’s new in my stash so watch this space!

Jersey Jumpsuit of dreams!

Rachel's jersey jumpsuit

 
For this project I chose this amazing organic cotton jersey in navy and orange from the Samantha Claridge Studio shop, as soon as I saw this fabric I knew immediately it would make an amazing jumpsuit. 
Through the #sewtogetherforsummer challenge I bagged myself a cheeky little discount off the Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit and decided these two were perfect together.
 
 
This jumpsuit has 2 versions, I decided to make the v neck version with the tie straps across the back. It has an elastic waist and hip pockets and a lovely wide leg which make these super comfy and flattering.  The bodice is fully lined and as I’m tall, I needed to lengthen both the bodice and the trousers, this is a normal adjustment for me with most patterns, this meant eeking out the pattern out of my 2.5m of fabric was a bit of a challenge but I got there! 
This beautiful fabric is incredibly soft and easy to handle and would be ideal for an adventurous beginner who wants to venture into the world of stretch fabrics. 
 
 
 

This is only the second Closet Case Pattern I have made and the instructions were super easy to follow, there is an interesting technique to create the lining for this bodice which I haven’t come across before but it works so well and gives you a bodice that feels so well constructed and supportive. I love how it looks, but think it would look great paired with a belt swell if you want to look a little more glam.

I am absolutely delighted with the result and can’t wait for more sunny days to be here so I can wear it!

Savannah Shirt

@chatterstitch shares her favourite shirt...

 
 
Hi There!
It’s Carol here, aka @Chatterstitch and I really need to tell you, all about my latest make for the Samantha Claridge Design Team!

Why? do I hear you say? Because, I absolutely love it. I requested some of this fabulous Lilac tram stripe cotton to make a Wardrobe By Me, Savannah shirt. The styling of this is so great, very classic and simple but also feminine. It’s a collarless button-down shirt with long sleeves and button cuffs.

I am really enjoying working with natural fibres at the moment especially in this lovely warm weather we are experiencing, well I suppose it is July!

So, this lovely white cotton with its strong lilac stripes was just perfect!

When my fabric first arrived, I machine washed at 40 and then line dried. It washed and pressed like a dream, just as expected from a quality cotton. 

 

What really attracted me to this fabric was the lovely tram stripe and the possibilities it gave me to play around with the stripe direction. The yolk on the savannah pattern is cut on the fold but I really wanted to have the stripes form chevrons at the centre back of the yolk, so I added an extra 1.5cm seam allowance to each centre back seam and cut the yolk as two separate halves. I used my quilting ruler to cut the first half at an angle of 45 degrees and then laid that half over the fabric so I could match the pattern for the other half of the yolk. I think it worked really well but that actually created a different challenge! 

The neck band is cut on the bias, to allow the stretch and curve around the neck, this allows the neckband to lie nice and flat. But, I realised if I cut the neckband as one continuous strip, from the front the diagonal stripe would appear to run in opposite directions, so I decided to also cut the neck band in two sections and then have those chevrons running opposite to the yolk! Yes, I know I just can’t resist the challenge!

I do think however this is one of the main reasons why I have to make my own clothes, I hate seeing people wearing stripes which don’t match or clothes which don’t fit!

I’ve really wanted to try out making my own buttons for such a long time and when I got the opportunity to make some to match my shirt, I just had to try them out. I chose the 11mm plastic ones which come as a six pack.

 

They are so easy to use, you cut a little disk of fabric slightly larger than the front then run a line of gathering stitches around the perimeter. Then pull up the gathers and knot the ends. Once its secure just pop on the little disc which holds it all in place. Et Voila!! 

 

I will definitely use these again and they come in 5 different sizes from 11mm to 38 mm in the nylon (which I used) and also metal ones which come in the same sizes. I’m not exactly sure why you would choose the metal ones over the nylon but on the website the metal ones are recommended for medium weight fabrics, so perhaps with a heavier fabric the metal ones are a bit stronger.

I really like this fabric and I love my new shirt; however, I think the fabric would also make a fabulous top or a shirt dress and there are some great ones around right now!

What would you make?

That’s all from me for now thanks for reading my little post and until next time keep chatting and stitching!

@chatterstitch

Faux jumpsuit!


Kathrine shares her jumpsuit plans

 
 
This summer, jumpsuits seem to be everywhere both ready to wear versions and sewing patterns are all over social media. Last summer I failed with a couple of versions, so I decided for my June #scdesignteam project to try a faux jumpsuit consisting of a top and matching trousers. 

 

 

For the top I decided to use New Look 6464 and for the trousers my old trusty New Look 6160. I had seen a blue stripe ready to wear jumpsuit on the high street, so I was thrilled to find the perfect blue stripe fabric in the Samantha Claridge Studio shop. 

 

 

 

 

I decided to cut the top on the bias so that I could have a chevron design with the stripes, this required some careful stripe matching, lots of pins and tacking.

 

 

 

I was struggling to get a neat hem around the curve of the neckline, so I dug in my stash and came up with this floral bias binding-I do like those pretty hidden details.

The pattern called for a ribbon fastening but instead I decided to make a fastening from the fabric. The photo here shows my first try on, there were a few alterations to come. I liked the fit and shape at the front but despite having made a toile in a different fabric which seemed ok I wasn’t happy with the back. I think the bias cut was to blame, I had a lot of excess fabric across the top of the back and it stuck out and didn’t give a flattering shape. I put it on Madeline (my tailors dummy or body double as my OH calls her!) but then resorted to putting it on and giving my OH the pins. He then videoed it for me and kept pinning until I was happy, these OHs can be useful.

 

The trousers were simpler as it’s a pattern I’ve made many times. The only change was that I had planned full length trousers but when I tried them on I wasn’t sure. I pinned one leg to a cropped length and was deliberating in front of the mirror when my 20-year-old son appeared. His definite verdict was cropped was better and more trendy-20-year-old students can be useful too! I think I wish I’d cut the pockets on the bias too to tie in with the top, but I’d already finished when I had that thought. Look at the stripe matching too, you almost don’t know they’re there.

So, the finished garments……… they don’t do what I want them to do which is look like a jumpsuit. Apparently as I’ve learned from another 20-year-old co-ords are very fashionable, to me they’re just too matchy, matchy. However, I’ve worn the top with plain linen trousers and the trousers with a plain white top and I like them both-just no jumpsuit yet!

Sustainable kitchen roll!


Plastic free July ideas!

 
 
 
After starting plastic free July I realised my house has a serious disinfectant wipe habit! We use them for loads of things around the house and having dog’s means there is always a mess somewhere to clear up! I started to think of a way around this and came up with reusable kitchen roll!

I used a meter and a half of cotton and a meter of towelling from Samantha Claridge Studio. The towelling is the softest thing ever, I’m sure it’s softer than my bath towels! It would be perfect for baby bibs and such things as it would be lovely and soft near their skin. Below is how I made it, its super easy and hopefully something you’d like to do too.

1.     First thing I did was a little maths. I measured my current kitchen roll and each piece was 8” square. This seemed like a good size for me and the fabric was 55” wide which meant I got just under 7 sets. I just made the last one ¼ of an inch smaller but you wouldn’t notice on the roll.

2.     I then cut the cotton and the towelling into 8” squares.

3.     Once cut I paired them up with one of each and stitched a diagonal across the middle of each square keeping the two pieces together.

4.     Then I overlocked around the edge of each piece.

This could be your finishing point but I wanted mine to go on the roll like kitchen roll does.

 

  1. I then attached the prim poppers to each side so I could attach them on the roll. You need to attach them as you go along to make sure you alternate the way the poppers are attached or you won’t get the cotton all facing the same way. I have a feeling once I have washed this my husband won’t sit and re-popper them so will end up using the basket for clean ones too! Watch this space…

I also made a little box for the dirty ones to go in once they are used so that I can wash them all together. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube on how to make a fabric basket, I switched mine from wadding to stiff interfacing which made the side of the basket more box like which I thought would be perfect for throwing all my cloths into.

Hopefully this will reduce our need for more plastic around the kitchen but definitely perfect for spills and mopping up as the towels are super absorbent!

Summer Time Separates

@missmaker shows us her summer wardrobe staples!

 
 
You may recognise this georgeous fabric from my previous project, this soft drapy cotton viscose from www.samanthaclaridgestudio.com was too beautiful! I just couldn’t tuck it away as a coat lining so I used a small amount for the yoke of the Jade jacket lining and saved the rest for a rather more summery project…

My basic idea was to cut a half circle skirt so the grain of the skirt would run across the bias and drape beautifully with lots of movement. I wanted a full length skirt so measure from my waist to floor then added 4cm to play with. My hip measurement divided by Pi (3.14 – back to school days!) gave me the diameter circle I would need, and as I wanted a half circle I used that as the radius for the waistline instead. To make the very most of the fabric I had to then spread this half circle to give me a slightly flatter curve

I also had some fantastic pale grey cuffing with a coral, pink and white stripe (also available at Sew Crafty) which I though would work perfectly as a comfy waistband, I joined the back seam and sewed the cuffing to the top, marking quarters and stretching the cuffng between to give me a stretchy waistband that still sat beautifully flat with subtle gathers when topstitched with a small zigzag.

A small rolled hem was all that was then needed to complete the skirt, so quick and easy I can see a couple more of these being whizzed up before summer is out!

Then is was on to the top half. I have a New Look pattern (6095) that I have made about 10 different variations of so far.

The fit is fab and actually works perfectly without the zip in the back so I’ve taken to cutting the back as one piece for relaxed fit versions.

I wanted two separate items that came together beautifully as one when needed to, s, once I had the basic shape together I popped it on my dress form with the skirt and thought about the proprtions of the neckline and how bind and finish it.

I opted for a sleaveless look with simple fold over binding, a laced front created using a rectangular facing turned to the outside, topstitched and used button holes with a long rouleux threaded through them (I still might change this to a cord made with emroidery thread matched to the coral stripe of the cuffing but that’s for another day)

TOP TIP: The binding on this top used one of my go to techniques for a lightweight finish. Cut a strip of binding about 5cm wide from the fabric you are using, not on the bias as this is too stretchy but at about 25 degrees. Fold the whole thing in half and press. Place the binding on the wrong side and line up your three raw edges (two for the binding one from the neck or arm hole you are binding). Stitch round the whole thing (folding your ends neatly where they join) Trim the raw edges down to about 0.5cm, fold the entire binding to the outside. Top stitch into place.  Supr neat, super light and super strong for this kind of drapey fabric.

And there we go! Time for a try on. I have just got to decide which combo is my favourite now!!!