Saturday, 28 February 2015

February Indie Pattern Update!


There has as always been a lot going on in the world of indie sewing pattern design this month. I have spotted in particular lots of calls for pattern testers on individual pattern company blogs so if that's something you've been interested in doing keep your eyes peeled! I haven't listed them here as the deadlines to apply tend to be super speedy and have all passed by the date of publishing this!

New Pattern Companies/First Releases


  • The very first pattern from Sewing Avenue is the Camellia Top and the even better news is that it's completely free to download! It's a simple shape with just two pattern pieces which Sarah is going to be showing you how to manipulate to create a wide variety of top designs!


New Patterns

  • Heather Lou from Closet Case Files continues to release contemporary and chic designs which fill holes in our pattern collections with her latest offering - the Carolyn Pyjamas. I'm not usually one for wearing a traditional full PJ set to bed but now I'm dreaming about making a silk pair! It has an extra smaller size than her other patterns too.
  • Abby from Blue Ginger Doll released a whole collection of four PDF patterns which mix and match to create a selection of beautiful outfits. The range includes the April Skirt, Anne Top, Abby Singlet and Alicia Shorts.
  • The latest By Hand London dress pattern is currently available on presale at 15% off! It's called the Sophia Dress and features unusual angled darts on both the skirt and bodice as well as options for a fitted skirt and a flared skirt with godets which I can't wait to try out!
  • The Cowl Neck Dress is the new PDF pattern from Sew Over It. As with all their patterns it looks to be a great wardrobe staple as well as being super speedy to sew! I think you could make a whole variety of dresses from it depending on fabric choice.
  • Jennifer Lauren released the Felicity Dress which I can't wait to sew in breezy cotton for summer! The bodice is shaped with gathering around the neckline and there are options for a gathered or three quarter circle skirt.
  • The latest pattern from Sew Caroline is the Downtown Tunic. It has a relaxed fit and features either a peplum or button front skirt to be made in contrasting fabric.
  • The Bellevue Top is the most recent release from Straight Stitch Designs. It's a pattern designed for a mixture of knit and woven fabrics which is really interesting and has options for a facing or band finishing along with differing sleeve lengths.
  • Waffle Patterns have just released the Marmalade Gathered Jacket. I really like the combination of design elements in this one; it's got a lovely sporty feel. Plus it's 20% off until 6th March!

Sew-alongs


Upcoming!

  • Scandinavian pattern company Named are releasing their Spring collection of 12 new patterns tomorrow (March 1st)! I always love that they release a whole collection at once and am so excited to see what they have come up with this time! Five of the designs will be available in an expanded size range; up to a UK 22/US 18.
  • There's a new pattern coming soon from Deer and Doe which Eleonore has been working really hard on. We know it's called Cardamome but I haven't spotted any other clues as to what type of garment it might be!
  • Marilla Walker is developing a pattern for a classic a-line denim skirt which is going to come with a maxi length option - so wonderfully nineties! Keep an eye out on her Instagram for more sneaky peaks.
  • Skinny Bitch Curvy Chic have got a couple of patterns coming our way in the next few days. They're called the Pinot Pants and the Cabernet Cardigan; love the boozy naming!
  • The next pattern from Itch to Stitch is going to be the Emily Culottes which you can get a full run down on by following the link. After sewing up the Marbella Dress I'm really keen to try another of Kennis' patterns; the instructions were brilliant!

Other Exciting News

  • Elisa from Salme Patterns revealed her very first paper patterns! Seven designs from her gorgeous collection of classic styles are now available to buy in paper as well as PDF form.
  • By Hand London re-released their Charlotte Skirt pattern as a PDF with updated instructions. I've made a fair few of this dream of a pencil skirt and seeing it pop up in my feed again has reminded me to try out a version with the ruffle hem
  • Paprika Patterns re-released their Jade Skirt PDF pattern. It now has an improved design and larger size range so if you were tempted before now is the time to buy!

As per usual I feel like there's a lot I've missed (particularly in the non-existent sew-along section this month!) so feel free to point out any other gossip you've heard of in the comments and I'll be sure to add it in! To wrap this up here's some of your inspiring completed projects I've spotted this month:


  • Emmie's tropical Anna Dress has got me desperate for summer; partly for the sunshine and partly so that I can sew some gorgeous things like this! Doesn't that print look stunning on her?
  • I was eagerly following Leisa 's progress with her lace Archer Shirt and my jaw dropped when I saw the completed garment. Sewing a garment with so many pieces and tricky elements in a fabric as tricky as lace AND doing it so beautifully deserves a round of applause!
  • I don't usually include designer's own versions of their patterns here but I'm completely in love with Pauline Alice's biker jacket variation of her Quart Coat. That fabric! I'm making one.
  • Rachel's printed playsuit version of the Holly Jumpsuit is so fun and comfortable looking. I really got into the practicality of playsuits last summer and will be trying out this pattern combo soon I think!
  • Kirsten's monochrome silk/cotton Carolyn Pyjamas are what is seriously tempting me to buy this pattern! Loving the piping and the monogrammed pocket!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

A Cotton Laurel Blouse for my Mum

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: John Lewis Heritage Collection Cotton Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns

Today I've got a completed garment to share from last year which for once isn't for me to wear! When I made my polka dot blouse version of Colette Pattern's Laurel back in June last year my Mum spotted it and decided she quite liked the simple lines of it for herself which I wasn't surprised about as I had thought it was just her sort of top! I really love the proportions of it and particularly the shape of the neckline and length of the sleeves. A few weeks later she popped in to see me when I was taking part in the John Lewis Sewing Bee and while she was in the store chose fabric for her own version. It's a quilting weight cotton from the Heritage Collection they released for their 100 year anniversary and I only needed just over a metre even with cutting the pieces to line up the coloured stripes. I don't usually sew with this sort of cotton as I prefer to wear drapier fashion fabrics so it was a bit of a treat for me to work with a fabric which is so straightforward to cut, sew and press!


Diary of a Chain Stitcher: John Lewis Heritage Collection Cotton Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns


The main reason I don't usually sew garments for other people is because I am nervous about achieving a good fit, particularly when that person isn't around to try it on throughout the construction process. However, with this I felt fairly confident as my Mum is a very similar size, shape and height to me and tried on my top for me! It was a good fit so I cut the same size 2 for her; the only issue she had was the same as mine which was feeling a bit restricted above the bust. (I made this before my Black Laurel Dress and so before I discovered the strange difference in the drafting of the armholes!) I made the adjustment I was planning on doing for my next version for myself to add a bit of width at this point. I simply taped a scrap of paper behind this part of the pattern piece and drew in a new curve at the point where the armscye dips in, adding about 1/2" at the narrowest point and smoothly blending it back into the original line. I just did this to the front pattern piece as the back fit beautifully. I did however measure the length of the total armhole (subtracting the seam allowances) and check that it was still roughly the same as the length of the sleeve head so I didn't end up with too little or too much to ease in when setting the sleeves.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: John Lewis Heritage Collection Cotton Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns

In general the stripe matching wasn't too tricky on this as there are not many pattern pieces to match (just side seams and a centre back seam) and the bold bands of colour are quite wide. The only thing which bothered me for a while is that the bands are made up of a series of smaller stripes which kind of wiggle across the fabric and this means the widths of the bands vary at different points. After a bit of thought I decided there was no way to conquer this irregularity and I just had to accept that the widths of the bands may be slightly different where they met at the side seams. I'm really happy with how the placement of the pattern works with the darts and how that orange stripe appears to curve down over the bust. I won't lie...that was a happy accident!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: John Lewis Heritage Collection Cotton Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns


Because of the irregular widths of the bands I wasn't too bothered about any exact matching at the armholes but I did know I needed to consider the placement of the stripes on the sleeves to avoid it looking like a hot mess where things intersected and also to keep the design of the top looking balanced. Once I had cut my front pattern pieces I marked on the tissue where the bands of colour began and ended then used this to roughly work out where I wanted the orange and green bands to lie on the sleeve head, using the notches as a guide to match things up. I drew this onto the sleeve pattern pieces so it was super simple to cut. I was really happy to have the paper version of the pattern opposed to the PDF at this point as I could see straight through the tissue! I'm really pleased with how the sleeves turned out as when Mum's arms are by her sides the colours appear to run straight across the garment, through the body and sleeves.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: John Lewis Heritage Collection Cotton Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns

I again used a facing I drafted myself to finish the neckline rather than using the bias tape recommended in the pattern instructions as I found this really tricky to manage around the tight curves at the shoulder seams. As with my original Laurel blouse and subsequent versions I still had real trouble getting the neckline to lay flat, particularly in this crisper cotton despite vigorous pressing. I clipped the seam allowances right up to the stitching line every half inch or so and then under stitched all the way round. Once the edges of the facing were then tacked down by hand at the shoulder seams and centre back I was happy with the finish. On my polka dot version I had to resort to topstitching to stop the facing flipping out to the right side and I really didn't want to have to do that on this one as it would have been much more obvious crossing the various colours.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: John Lewis Heritage Collection Cotton Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns

The only other change I made this time was to turn and press a small hem on the sleeves rather than using bias tape. It is a lovely clean finish which worked well in this weight of cotton but I might revert back to using a bias tape on future versions. On my polka dot blouse I used a lovely soft inch wide rayon binding which makes the sleeve edge really comfortable and also the width of it seems to help the sleeve sit nicely against the arm.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: John Lewis Heritage Collection Cotton Laurel Blouse from Colette Patterns

I finished all my seams on the overlocker and turned the hem up twice before machine stitching which turned out beautifully in this lovely cotton. The insides look really clean and tidy and you get a really nice crisp edge when pressing.

After seeing the things that I have been sewing Mum has been tempted recently to buy herself a sewing machine; all I need to do now is persuade her that she'll love sewing as much as I do and she can make herself some more blouses!

Saturday, 31 January 2015

January Indie Pattern Update!


I don't know about you but I don't know where January has disappeared to! It's been a wee bit hectic around this parts and from the looks of the amount of news I've got to share with you it's been a hectic one in the indie pattern designer community!

New Pattern Companies/First Releases!

  • Erin launched her new pattern company Seamstress Erin Designs. There are currently just accessories patterns available but she has got some garment patterns in the works!
  • The next new indie pattern company in town is Lileth & Eve and they are looking for pattern testers! It sounds like they've got some really good drafting and design experience between them so I'm looking forward to seeing their first release.
  • Beth from Sew DIY released her very first PDF pattern; the Lou Box Top. It's a simple and versatile top with six possible variations. It's probably the exact kind of thing I need more of in my wardrobe at the minute to be honest!

New Patterns

  • Hot on the heels of her stunning Quart Coat Pauline Alice has released the Eliana Dress. I love both the sleeveless and raglan sleeve variations of this peasant blouse style dress.
  • Kennis from Itch to Stitch has been a busy bee recently and has released two new patterns this month! The first was the Idyllwild Top and Dress which along with having 42 different variation combos is available for the bargain price of just $1! All proceeds from the sale of this pattern are being donated to charity. The second pattern was released just this week and is the Paulina Top which is pattern for knits with a woven fabric contrast.
  • I know a lot of people have been waiting with baited breath for the Grainline Studio duffle coat pattern and after it's release this month I've seen quite a few Instagram posts of the paper versions landing on doormats across the world! It's named the Cascade, has hood and collar variations and I love the front zip feature concealed behind the toggles to provide extra warmth.
  • Sewaholic released two beautiful shirt/blouse patterns this month; the beautiful sewing of the samples had me drooling! The Granville is a classic and fitted shirt drafted as usual for the more pear shaped of us and the Oakridge is slightly more feminine with a neck tie variation.
  • Sew Over It released the kit for their Pencil Skirt pattern this month and many of you may be pleased to know that they have now released the pattern to purchase separately in PDF form. I had the pleasure of testing the pattern and I love it to bits! Just need to find some time and light to take photos and I can share it with you!
  • Marilla Walker released the Alice Pattern for tights and leggings. I love it when I see patterns released for garments or items which you less usually see sewn. I'm really intrigued by how you would even begin to sew tights!
  • The Jasper Sweater/Dress is the most recent release from Paprika Patterns. It's designed for thicker knits and has options for a hood or chunky collar. There will be plenty of tutorials and tips available on the site to accompany it.
  • The new Raglan Sleeve Shirt Dress from Salme Patterns is just as chic and classic as I have come to expect from Elisa's patterns. Make sure to sign up to her mailing list for discounts!
  • Style Arc's new patterns for January were the Elita Designer Top, the Fern Woven Top, the Brooke Woven Skirt, the Melinda Knit Tunic, the Rita Ponte Skirt and the Lani Woven Tunic. I'm always impressed with the contemporary and unique designs Style Arc put out and am sorely tempted by more than one of these!

Upcoming!

  • There's a new dress pattern coming from Jennifer Lauren Vintage at some point in February. From her last post it sounded like it was back from the testers and being brushed up before release!
  • The next pattern from Blue Ginger Doll is named the Alicia Shorts. I love the unique design details that Abby includes in her designs so I'm really looking forward to seeing her twist on shorts.
  • Thread Theory's second womenswear pattern is coming soon. They are the Lazo Pants and if you fancy a bit of a preview they were photographed with their recently released Camas Blouse. Love that waistband!
  • There are two new patterns coming from Skinny Bitch Curvy Chic this month! Betsy hasn't yet let slip even a clue as to the type of garments the might be for so I can't wait to see!

Sew-Alongs


Other Exciting News

  • The two new patterns from Sewaholic include lots of new features which are set to become standard for all their designs at some point. They now include sizes 18 & 20, have free downloadable French instructions, metric measurements on the envelope and are available in PDF format straight away!
  • There are also three more Sewaholic patterns available in PDF form alongside the paper; the Pendrell Blouse, Cordova Jacket and Robson Coat.
  • I'm so excited to see Jen over at Grainline Studio doing so well and her business developing into selling paper patterns as I love her designs and drafting. The Tiny Pocket Tank and Portside Travel Set patterns are now available in printed form.
  • Straight Stitch Designs have also branched out into paper versions of their patterns. Sometimes there's nothing better than some lovely packaging is there?! They are currently available for pre-sale in Kimberley's shop.
  • Also printing up a paper pattern storm is Elisa from Salme Patterns! Sometimes there's nothing better than some lovely packaging is there?! I can't wait to see these as I love her simple, clean design aesthetic. 

Phew, after all that I feel like I can't have missed much this month but as always if you know of any more news you'd like to share let me know in the comments and I'll add it in! To finish up here's your monthly dose of inspiration from the sewing blog community. Make sure to remember to share your finished garments with the hashtag #indiesewing on Twitter or Instagram, it's a great way to find some new blogs to follow and get some ideas!


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Little Black Laurel Dress

The first completed garment I've got to share with you in 2015 is actual one of my final projects of 2014. It racked up a fair few wears in those last few weeks of 2014 too! They don't lie when they say having a classic little black dress in your wardrobe will save your bacon for any occasion; this dress worked perfectly for pre Christmas cocktails, pub drinks, lunches and even an afternoon tea!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Little Black Colette Laurel Dress in Mood Fabrics Wool Sateen

Ever since making my polka dot version of the Laurel blouse from Colette Patterns I'd had a plain black version of the dress variation on my mind. I'd had such success with the style and fit of the blouse on me that I'd been dreaming about it in all kinds of fabrics and variations to be honest! For this dress I used this gorgeous wool sateen from Mood Fabrics and only needed just over a metre. It's kind of like a fairly lightweight suiting with a small amount of stretch, I bet it would make a lovely pair of trousers. It's hand is very smooth and it was lovely to sew with. I pre washed it on a gentle cycle in the machine as I was hoping this would be a big success and I'd want to be able to easily and regularly wash it. Then I gave it a good steamy press and it came up beautifully. It didn't need any other special treatment and I finished all the seams on my overlocker.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Little Black Colette Laurel Dress in Mood Fabrics Wool Sateen

I dove straight in and cut the size 2 as I had done with the blouse, presuming that it was drafted exactly the same. Spoiler alert, they're not! If you lay the front blouse piece onto of the front dress piece you'll see that the main difference is in the shape of the armhole. On the blouse pattern piece the armsyce dips inward quite dramatically just above the bust which seems a little odd to me and incidentally my blouse is slightly tight across the chest at this height. The dress pattern piece doesn't dip in in the same way and the armhole shape looks much more normal so I didn't make my planned alteration of adding some width in this area. The fit turned out fairly well but I do have a couple of small wrinkles here which I think indicate that I need a little more room across the lower bust next time. I think the bust points could also do with being lowered a tiny bit.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Little Black Colette Laurel Dress in Mood Fabrics Wool Sateen

Once the basic shift was assembled and before the sleeves were set in I popped it on to assess the fit. To be honest it felt like a bit of a tent and not the flattering, figure skimming shift I imaged. Comparing the pattern pieces the width of the dress and blouse are very similar but I think the blouse still feels flattering with this much ease because of the shorter length and the fact that you are not hiding any of your shape below the waist. A bit of pinching and pinning later, I decided that it could be salvaged by taking it in down the side seams. I took out 1" on the double from each side seam from the waist to hem and graded out to nothing at the underarm as I didn't want to loose any ease across the bust. That's 4" in total that I removed from below the waist!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Little Black Colette Laurel Dress in Mood Fabrics Wool Sateen

My rather makeshift fitting worked out pretty well as I love the shape of it now. I've transferred the alteration to the pattern pieces so I can copy it next time. However, it does tend to ride up a little/not fall back into place without a tug when I stand so I think I could do with a little more room around the bum. I'll probably take slightly less out of the side seams from just above the hip to the hem. The only other change I made was to take 1 1/2" off the length. I expected that I would need to as I'm fairly short and (after pinning the hem up at different heights and inspecting in the mirror) I found going as short as I dared made this silhouette work better for me. After a number of wears I feel like I got the length spot on as I feel comfortable sitting, standing and even going up and down the escalators from the tube! It's not really practical for work but I've got a lot of evening and weekend wear out of it as I say. I hemmed it with two turns of 1/2" before machine stitching.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Little Black Colette Laurel Dress in Mood Fabrics Wool Sateen

I omitted the zip in this as I knew from making the blouse that I could get it on and off without a fastening. Thankfully, partly due to the stretch in this sateen, this still worked once I had taken in the side seams! If making in a fabric with no stretch whatsoever I would need to include the zip now I have slimmed it down. You can see from the rear picture that I had some trouble setting in these sleeves and I'm not particularly happy with the final result but they are at least comfortable and wearable. I'm wondering if the issues I had with easing the sleeve heads in compared to blouse version were caused by the fact that the armholes are different shapes so the length the sleeve head has to be eased into is different? Despite my issues with the sleeve heads I do love this length of sleeve!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Little Black Colette Laurel Dress in Mood Fabrics Wool Sateen

I drafted my own facing for the neckline (as I did for the blouse) instead of using bias binding to finish it as recommended by the pattern. I don't often have much success with this technique and trying to get the binding to sit flat around this shape of neckline on my first version of Laurel was a total nightmare which I ended up giving up on. I still had some trouble getting the neckline to lay flat but clipping, under stitching and thoroughly pressing the edge sorted that out. I also caught the facing down with a few hand stitches at the centre front and back and shoulder seams to prevent it trying to flip to the outside.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Little Black Colette Laurel Dress in Mood Fabrics Wool Sateen

Despite the construction issues and tweaking of the fit that I still need to do on this pattern I'm delighted with this super wearable addition to my wardrobe! It dresses up or down with different shoes and I love it with a skinny belt too. Have any of you got any other pattern recommendations for a classic little black dress?