Autumn Sewing – Kate jersey dress version 4

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It has been a phenomenal summer hasn’t it? Gloriously warm lazy days filled with lovely beach walks with the dog, alfresco dining and wearing anything other than cotton or chiffon feels just too hot! However, the nights are drawing in, September is the beginning of Autumn and the heat won’t last forever!

I headed to the nearby Fabricland in Portsmouth last Sunday – if I am honest, Fabricland is a bit hit and miss, sometimes brimming with lovely fabrics other times I leave without seeing anything inspiring! Thankfully this visit was one of the inspiring ones! I was looking for knits – warmer dresses to see me though the Autumn and into winter.

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I could not resist this beautiful floral print, so reminiscent of summer but in a cosy jersey that was so soft to the touch it would be a delight to wear. It has a lovely weight that hangs nicely.

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I love the butterflies through out the pattern – there was no definable direction to the print, although I detected a slight diagonal. The flowers were not so big that it made pattern cutting difficult. I bought 3m at £4.99 pm which is a bargain!

I decided to use the Kate Jersey Dress pattern again – to be honest with you I have lost my sewing mojo a little lately and I just wanted to get the dress done rather than having to faff around with pattern adaptation. It really peeves me that I have to always do the Full Bust adjustment, so I decided to use the pattern already drafted. Not only that the style really flatters my shape and I feel relatively happy with the finished dress. (Even though I am not really that happy with my weight at the moment!)

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However, the pattern is tricky considering it is for knits. The central panel finishes at a sharp peak, the bodice is also sharply curved… needless to say stretch fabrics and points are not easy to achieve. I think the first time I did this dress I used some contrast fleece fabric that gave it some stability. However I wanted to make this complete in one fabric so had no option. I think the next one I make I will add a fleece backing, the knit is too soft to really define the lovely point – which is a key detail on this pattern.

So I am all ready for Autumn … let’s hope we have an indian summer!

 

 

 

 

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Looking for a pincushion? Ask Fred..

sewing items sausage dog pincushion

Oh how I am missing the Great British Sewing Bee… Heather’s lovely little sausage dog pincushion was always sitting next to her sewing machine. When I saw the patten in Love Sewing Magazine I decided to make one of my own

Sausage dog pincushion 3

 

I had some lovely pink tweed left over from a project I made 6 years ago! As the pattern was for a door stop, I decided to decrease it a little. Everything is so much easier to hand sew – especially when you are working with tiny fiddly pieces like the head gusset and tiny ears.

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I decided to embellish him a little with some lazy daisies and fly stitches along his back.

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He is a very friendly chap!

 

 

Summer Flowers – Dress for a wedding

flowery fifties dress

A dear friend of mine was getting married so I decided to make myself a dress – I have been gradually working through my fabric stash -this beautiful fabric was bought a couple of years ago from a curtain shop that was closing down. In all I had just over three metres that I had snapped up for £7!

Fabric design

The fabric is big and bold the flower heads were enormous, but the repeat was manageable with the quantity of fabric I had. I also loved the weight of this cotton, similar to the purple linen I used for my spring dress. I have also been learning some Couture techniques that I was hoping to put in practise: using an underling.

Threadcount pattern

This pattern came with my Love Sewing Magazine and, joy of joys, it came in a DD cup! No full bust adjustment for once! What a brilliant idea! The Thread Count patterns are very well thought out and I hope that other patterns will follow their lead!

The princess seam line, just off the bust line works well for my body shape, it makes the bodice  easier to adjust without deep darts. I really struggle because my bust is quite big, I avoid waistline darts as there is not enough room and they end up very deep! The pattern was very easy to follow –  I was delighted to find after making the toile there was no pattern adaptation other than bringing in the back by a couple of inches.

I decided to change the lightly gathered skirt opting to use a circle skirt to avoid extra bulk around the midriff. I am short waisted with a bit of a tummy which reduces the overall space between the bust and waistline.

Princess seams

I used a beautiful soft voile as the underling – it was the first time I had used this technique – oh it is delightful, suddenly the garment has more structure! I hand stitched the princess seams open – it might look messier than my overlocker, but I find I really enjoy the control hand stitching gives! This will be covered by the lining anyway.

pattern matching 2

I used the underlining to pattern match the bodice pieces, I wanted the design to flow round the body – while the design was large I had enough fabric to get the pattern matching right on the bodice.

pattern matching side seam

The side seam worked beautifully – once again hand stitching the seams open to the underling, meant that no stitches came through to the front of the garment.

back bodice zip

The pattern matching came up well along the back bodice, although it was difficult to do on the skirt.   I hand stitched the zip to the underlining again – so there is no visible stitching line the right side, only the zipper pull is peeping out from the top.

Organza skirt lining

I used a organdie lining for the skirt – I had to pattern match as best I could – trying to ensure the flowers ran centrally along the front. The underlining helped the skirt to maintain its crisp shape, allowing the garment to flow around the body, as it is quite slippery.

threadcount pattern

The skirt flowers matched the bodice but I could not be as accurate as I was on the bodice as there simply wasn’t enough fabric to play with. Although I am quite pleased with the results.

Reading poem

Here I am wearing my dress and reading out a poem during the service, the dress was supported by a net underskirt.  It was a fabulous wedding and a beautiful day!

the Happy Couple

The happy couple! Congratulations!

Tips for Knits! – Jersey Kate Dress, Love Sewing Magazine

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Many retailers are making clothing in Knit fabrics because it allows for more flexibility with sizing – but they offer a challenge to the home sewer that is easy to overcome.

Stretch fabrics have a life of their own – Jersey is a very finely knitted fabric which can be made from many different fibres from cotton to polyester. Some might shy away from Polyester, but recent developments have produced blends that are warm, soft and fluid, like the fabric I chose for my project.

So here are my top tips for successful sewing with Knits:

Made for mi tips for stretch knits one layer at a time

Cut your fabric in one layer

Most patterns are made to be cut on the fold, but with stretch fabrics the lower part of the fabric can shift. It is best to draft a new patten piece and cut a single layer. If you don’t have any pattern paper, you can lay the pattern out on one side, then turn it over to cut the second side making sure you don’t disturb the fabric.

The left hand square was cut on the fold, the right and square cut in a single layer. Notice how much the left hand square has grown on the left side almost 5cm! The left hand side  was the underside of the fabric when it was being cut.

Don’t cut out your fabric all at once – cut each piece as you sew – the less time the fabric has to move the better the stability and the more likely the piece will retain its shape.

tips for stetch knits made for mi

Use a rotary cutter and self healing mat

The fabric shifts and moves easily! Take care not to shift the fabric around while cutting – I caught the bottom of my fabric pulled it slightly during cutting, I thought I had rectified it but when I compared the pattern to the fabric, I had cut the bottom edge 1/2 inch smaller!

The act of cutting with scissors lifts the fabric – causing it to stretch and move. A rotary cutter puts downward pressure on the fabric and anchors it in place while cutting.  Accuracy will improve and it is easier to follow the sharp armhole curves.

Needles

Use a stretch needle

These are different to ball point needles – they are coated with anti-static, which prevents the fabric from sticking to your needle, causing skipped or missing stitches. They also have ball points that move the needle between the knit rather than piercing the threads and causing a ‘run’ (it looks like a ladder that you see in tights!).

Madeformi tips for stretch knits use a walking foot

If you don’t have an overlocker – use a Walking Foot.

Overlockers are made for stretch fabrics – they have what is called a differential feed – that means two sets of feed dogs, one on the bottom that feeds the fabric through, and one on the top that pushes the fabric out.

An overlocker can push more fabric though the bottom than is being pushed out at the top and visa versa – hence the term ‘differential’. The seam created has a little stretch of its own.

If you plan on making lots of stretch fabrics it is worth the investment of an overlocker, it speeds up the making process by neatening the edges as the garment is sewn.

A walking foot – creates an upper fabric feed system to work with the feed dogs so that your sewing machine can create a similar seam – it works very effectively and allows a little more control when stitching.

 

Use the right stitch

If you are using your sewing machine – ensure that you use a knit stitch  or if not set your width just above zero so that each stitch is a tiny zigzag, this will give your stitching the flexibility to  move with your fabric as it expands and contracts.

Thread

Use the right thread

Let there be a harmonious marriage between  fabric and thread. Natural fabrics need natural threads, synthetic fabrics need synthetic thread – polyester knits are best stitched with polyester thread, cotton with cotton – save your sanity and seam ripper!

tips for stretch fabrics

Stabilise necklines with twill tape or ribbon

Necklines will grow – more so with stretch fabrics. Stabilise them by stitching a narrow twill tape or ribbon just inside the seam allowance.  Do this immediately after cutting this piece and you will reduce the opportunity for growth!

You can use the iron on hemming tape for speed but it is not as durable.

Use more stable fabrics for facings

Facings are often used around necklines and armholes – because they lay inside the garment you can use more stable fabrics such as cotton or fleece. Or in this sample above I placed the facing on the outside using black wool.

Try to ensure that the facing fabric matches the weight of your knit so that they are balanced.

If you want to use the same fabric  stitch a layer of organza on the inside edge of the facing, this will give the neckline more stability without adding bulk.

Here is my finished Kate Jersey Dress

Happy stitching

Kate Jersey dress finished front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Sewing Magazine Ruby Dress Pattern Review

 

 

 


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 This ‘Sew Simple’ pattern came with Love Sewing Magazine – called the Ruby Dress

I thought it looked lovely – it is reminiscent of the 1950’s – a very flattering style, good for pear shapes or hourglass because the full skirt covers hips and thighs and focusses attention onto a small waistline which are the assets of a pear and hourglass shape.

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There were a couple of adaptations I wanted to make to the pattern:

 

Replace the centre Zip in the back to a concealed zip in the side seam.

11-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-006I traced off the back pattern piece, using cross and dot paper.

I removed the seam allowance in the centre; because I have narrow shoulders pinched out a dart so that it narrowed the back slightly towards the top.

I drafted a mirror image to create one pattern piece that would not have to be cut on the fold. When you cut on the fold it is easy for the fabric to slip slightly out of grain – this can affect the fit and drape of the dress.

Increase bust allowance for a fuller bust

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I am a 34 G bust – so I had to adapt the pattern to allow an extra 2inches at the bust line but 34 is very narrow, so I needed to bring the pattern in at the back and shoulders.

Once again I traced off the front bodice and hit a problem – the bust point was not indicated on the pattern. So I had to find my own bust point – you do this by laying the pattern piece across your body, mark the peak of the bust as a big dot. Then cut out the side dart and move it down so it is pointing at the dot. (I had to move the dart down about 2 inches)

I made a quick toile and found that I could just increase the side seam by 1inch, and move the bottom seam by an 1inch – it would give me that extra room.

10-Ruby Dress Simple Sew Pattern from Love Sewing Magazine-005I also checked the measurement across the back – being narrow shouldered I needed to take another 1/2 inch out of the v at the back. I also skimmed an inch from the shoulder seam so it would finish at my shoulder.

Because of my large bust, I had to pinch out about a 1/2 inch dart at the neckline. I also altered the neckline so that it would sit just on my collarbone using a french curve to round it off.

Even though I am inserting a side zip, I did not need to add any further seam allowances as there would be sufficient room to insert the zip along the side seam.

I drafted new pattern pieces with these changes – these could be used to make more dresses without the need to go over the fitting again.

Lengthen the skirt length

I added approximately 3 inches to the bottom of the skirt, so that it would sit just below the knee instead of just above.

I added a cap sleeve – in keeping with the fifties style.

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My Fabric choice

I had two lovely pieces of curtain fabric to work with from a local curtain shop. The spring linen was a remnant of 3 metres for £5. The silky satin lining was a pale green 5 metres £7 which was an absolute bargain.

I wanted to line this dress and the weight of the satin would help the garment flow easily as well as protecting me from the sharpness of the zip. In essence it means you make two dresses, but it feels luxurious to wear.

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I believe the finishing of a dress makes a huge difference between the high street – it is what makes dressmaking so wonderful. Most clothing is so cheap that the design details are the way they reduce costs. I aim to sew garments that I could never afford to buy, not just for the customised fit but the small details you get with high end, great pattern matching, bra clips, lining attachments – details you will find in couture houses.

I made the lining dress first so that I was able to check the measurements again – before I worked on my outer fabric.

 

 

The challenging areas on this pattern are the neckline and the deep v at the back.

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In order to give more stability – after stitching the lining and bodice pieces together I ran some hemming web between the two layers and ironed in place. This created a beautiful crisp finish to the edge and also stabilised the v at the back.


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Its a great idea to attach the lining to the zip flap – I used my normal zip foot as it allows you to sew close to the zip edge.

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I loved the pattern of this pretty spring fabric, but the darts at the front of the dress made it look a bit odd, so I appliquéd a couple of flowers over the seam so that it looked better.

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I increased the skirt a little to add fullness and my ruffler foot made the regular pleats a doddle.

On reflection, I think I might make the next one more of a circle skirt without pleating.

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This pattern was very easy to work with – although I did not follow the making up instructions as I was confident enough to make it myself. However, if you are new to sewing it might be worth either keeping the magazine with the pattern or just the pages where they give you instructions on how to make up, then the two won’t get lost!

I use the resealable freezer bags to store my patterns, its easy to see what they look like but there is also room for my adapted patterns too. (I can never get the pattern back into the envelope).