Friday, 12 May 2017

The Vogue Cocktail Hour Sew-Along! - Floral Brocade V1537

Today it's my turn to share with you the outfit I've made for the Vogue Cocktail Hour Social Sew-Along in aid of The Eve Appeal! I really enjoyed taking part in their Big Vintage Sew-Along last year and am delighted to be one of the bloggers spreading the word about their campaign this year. McCalls UK have selected a variety of cocktail hour appropriate patterns including dresses. jumpsuits and separates. The proceeds of the sales of these patterns from March right through until November will be donated to The Eve Appeal who are the only UK national charity raising awareness and funding research into the five gynaecological cancers. They do invaluable work focusing on risk prevention, early detection and screening. There are a whole host of fantastic bloggers taking part in the sew-along and sewing up their choice from the patterns to show you their potential and inspire you to make your own!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade V1537 Coat and Dress

So this is the maddest outfit I've ever made and I LOVE it! I chose the pattern before the fabric and then had real trouble deciding what I wanted. I often sew with soft and drapey fabrics so the fact that this requires fabric with a bit of structure which is also occasion appropriate was a nice challenge. The idea of using a jacquard/brocade like the sample garment appealed to me but everything I was coming across seemed a bit home dec/old fashioned/something I'd use for a period costume at work! I was after something fun and contemporary. I decided to hit Goldhawk Road and after not much success finally spotted a roll of this amazing floral brocade hidden away in Classic Textiles. Just after buying it I discovered that Fabrics Galore also stock it and have seen it pop up on social media a few times since. Rumana took full advantage of the amazing inverted colour-way on the reverse and made a great reversible sweatshirt style top out of it!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

This brocade has an amazing texture to it which appears slightly crinkled and almost quilted in the way that the flowers seem to rise out of the black background. The texture means the fabric has a bit of give in it as the texture can be flattened out which makes it interesting to sew and also very forgiving to fit! I'm not sure what the content is but there's definitely a bit of poly in there so I kept my iron on a mid rather than high temperature but it washed well at 40 degrees. The only thing I didn't like about this fabric is how much it frayed. Big fluffy chunks come off the moment you cut into it and my floor was more thread than carpet by the time I was done! Luckily both dress and coat and fully lined so it's not a problem now it's done but it certainly made the more fiddly construction elements tricky.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

I cut a size 12 which is a size down at the waist and hips from what the pattern recommends but my experience with these patterns has told me that there's more ease built in than I personally like and a 12 does just fine. To make doubly sure I checked the finished measurements which are printed on the pattern pieces themselves at the waist, bust and hip lines rather than the envelope. I'm VERY pleased with the fit and am glad I sized down. The dress has the perfect amount of ease for a shift and I like that it still gives you a figure and has great shape through the back. When I first put it on it seemed a little roomy in the shoulders but has settled into place with wear. If I made it again I'd probably take a smidge of length off the shoulder rather than width as I think the problem is to do with where it sits rather than the size of the neckline. For the first time in a long time I did absolutely nothing to the length of the pattern! Being 5ft3 I normally have to shorten things by an inch or two but I love this as is. It is quite a short style and looks much more youthful for being that length but if I was any taller I think I'd feel a bit concerned about bending over!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

This was certainly a challenging and time consuming project but a very enjoyable one. There are huge number of techniques and steps to work through and no less than 28 pattern pieces! Just the cutting took me a day. The coat wasn't as complex as the winter coat I made myself back in January as I wasn't contending with a thick wool but it contains pretty much the same number of techniques and elements. Luckily as it was only a few months ago that I made that one the method felt quite familiar so I went into it with confidence. To make the process a little speedier I actually tackled the instructions in all the wrong order and did the coat and dress simultaneously so I could pin lots of pieces, sew lots of pieces then press lots of pieces without having to move around too much. I assembled all the little bits and pieces like the pockets, sleeve tabs and collar first so they were just ready to attach when I got to that point in the instructions.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

To my surprise I discovered that the trickiest part sewing wise was in the dress rather than the coat. The finishing techniques on this pattern are to die for and one of my favourite things is the facing and lining combination inside the the dress. Attaching that shaped lining to the facing a sewing the deep v of the centre back was definitely a challenge that required accuracy and patience! I'm really delighted with the way it turned out though and almost want to wear the dress inside out. It's such a stunning feature.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

This design is labelled as advanced but I wouldn't class myself as an advanced dressmaker and wouldn't say you need to be to tackle this one. If you break it down into small chunks and take your time it's entirely manageable. You definitely do need a bit of dressmaking and basic coat making experience under your belt though as I think you'd benefit from an understanding of how these kind of garments come together. The instructions are very thorough and clear but do rely on you having a bit of sewing knowledge.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

Always daunting when sewing a coat is the fact that you start with your bound buttonholes! The method in the pattern instructions is different to the one I followed when I made my coat but I decided to go with the pattern instructions this time. I think I'll go back to the method from 'Couture Sewing Techniques' next time as I didn't get as clean a finish this way and it was difficult to get crisp and even welts in this textured fabric. The fraying of the brocade made them particularly difficult, especially when it came to slashing and turning in the edges inside the coat to finish off. I didn't enjoy that part at all!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

I pretty much stuck to the instructions all the way through as they're great. I was confused by the ease stitching instructions for the front and back princess seams as it said to ease stitch the centre front and back pieces when I would have thought it should be the side pieces as that is the larger curve that you are trying to fit into the smaller. As it was I had no trouble easing in those areas by hadn't without gathering stitches.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

The only other time that things got confusing was attaching the coat lining to the facing as you are meant to sew down to the small circles near the hem but I couldn't see any small circles! There was a notch but that seemed quite high up from the hem. I sewed to that point anyway figuring if the gap was bigger than usual I'd just have to sew more by hand. There's A LOT of hand stitching involved in the coat. You could avoid a lot of it by bagging out the lining but I quite enjoyed sitting by the tv and closing everything up nice and accurately!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

I love that the coat includes top-stictching. It's another of those little details that really elevates a project. It doesn't really show much on my bonkers brocade but looks great up close. I added topstitching to the side and shoulder seams even though the instructions don't indicate too as it seemed odd to leave them out. The shoulder seams I pressed open and topstitched on both sides. The side seams I pressed towards the back and just topstitched on that side of the seam.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

I chose a plain black cotton lawn to line it as I thought this was a good match for the weight and structure of the brocade and I'm not a fan of wearing those more traditional 'silky' lining fabrics against the skin. I used a lightweight fusible cotton interfacing on both the coat and dress. I was concerned about how the brocade would fuse because of the texture but it actually moulded to the ridges of the fabric beautifully. The buttons came from my stash. I figured plain black and simple would do just fine with a fabric this loud!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

Both the coat and dress are packed with little details that elevate this design to real 'special project level'. The swing catches between the lining and dress at the hem to keep everything in place are a lovely touch, as is the fact that the patch pockets are lined. Next time I'd probably trim down the lining pieces slightly though so that they are encouraged to roll to the inside of the pocket.I had a hard time pressing those curved corners and getting the lining hidden away.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

My favourite features are the bracelet length sleeves of the coat and that amazing back detail on the dress. I really enjoyed the process of sewing a totally new design detail and love how it looks. It's just the right depth and width to be slightly sexy without being one exposed and I was delighted to discover that the lower strap is in the perfect place to hide my bra band!

The instructions recommend adding ribbon hanging loops inside the shoulders of the dress which I decided against as I didn't want them to peek out when wearing. I'm actually tempted to add smaller ribbon piece inside the shoulders with poppers to connect them so they can act as bra strap carriers as well as keeping the dress on the hanger. It's totally possible to wear a bra with this style but the straps could do with a little help to stay hidden.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

I was a little sceptical about how this style would suit me but I feel surprisingly comfortable and 'like myself' in it. I think it's a great look for petite ladies and the shape of the dress is totally timeless; when can't you wear a shift?! The bracelet length sleeves of the coat and it's cut have a slightly sixties vibe (especially in a flower power brocade!) but the combination of shift and jacket is also giving off a nineties feel too.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Floral Brocade Vogue 1537 Coat and Dress

It feels so 'fashion' to wear both pieces together but I'll be honest and say that it's unlikely I ever will. I adore the dress on it's own and definitely can see me getting a lot of wear out of it but I absolutely love the coat paired with a simple ensemble of skinny jeans and a white tee with black stilettos. I've never had a statement piece of outerwear before and I'm really enjoying it! I do have a friend's wedding to attend in November which the full ensemble might make it to if I pluck up the courage. Speaking of winter weddings, I never know what to wear and this combination of coat and dress is perfect. If my choice of fabric is a little bit much for you I think it would look amazing in a solid, vivid colour of beautiful wool crepe!

Do take some time to check out the other patterns you can by to support the campaign and keep your eyes peeled for the other projects over the next six months. I can't wait to see what everyone has been up to! 


Sunday, 7 May 2017

Stretch Gaberdine Flint Cropped Trousers

The project I've got to share with you today is a total departure from my normal silhouette and one that I thought could wind up a complete disaster for many reasons. But it turns out I love these trousers and can't stop wearing them! They are the Flint Pants & Shorts from Megan Nielsen and I've been telling pretty much everyone who'll listen about what a fantastic pattern these are. I would never have seen myself wearing this wide-legged, cropped style of trouser but I have seen some gorgeous versions popping up on Instagram and Pinterest over the last couple of months and the idea had been bouncing around in my head for a while. I'd been seriously eyeing up an M&S pair that a colleague of mine looks incredible in and as she's quite petite like I am I decided the look was worth a try. Then Megan released Flint and I think I bought the pattern that very day. I was so intrigued by the unusual crossover closure which is cleverly incorporated into the pocket opening and loved the front release tucks which add volume to the leg.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Stretch Gaberdine Flint Pants from Megan Nielsen

I actually bought the fabric for these before the pattern was released. My colleague's trousers are quite smart looking black ones with a bit of weight which flow beautifully and I had my eye out for a similar fabric. Classic black seemed like a good way to go for this first try of a new shape! I was shopping for work in John Lewis on Oxford Street when I came across their range of stretch suiting. Just the weight I was looking for and beautifully soft with a gorgeous drape provided by the viscose content. It is a polyester/viscose blend which I know might have some of you running for the hills but some modern day polyesters are world's apart from those nasty crepes and chiffons that melt as soon as they get anywhere near a cool iron. I couldn't tell that this was a poly to touch or work with it and as these trousers are a particularly breezy style I wasn't worried about the it getting hot or sticky to wear. I didn't need the spandex content but it's nothing too dramatic and it has made the completed trousers exceedingly comfortable with a nice 'bounce'.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Stretch Gaberdine Flint Pants from Megan Nielsen

I knew it was ideal on first touch and figured 2x the length of the trousers I wanted plus a little extra would be plenty so bought 1.8m with no deliberation. The Flint envelope actually recommends 2.4m of this width but with a bit of jiggling I managed with what I had. Phew! If you're using a fabric with a directional print or nap you will need more as I placed some of my pieces upside down to squeeze them on. Interestingly John Lewis's tag recommended hand wash or dry clean only which I'm assuming is because of the viscose content but I pre-washed it in the machine and have washed them a couple of times since with no trouble. I also risked a medium heat iron rather than the recommended cool as to get a nice flat seam it needs a good steamy press the eliminate that bounce that is so lovely to wear.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Stretch Gaberdine Flint Pants from Megan Nielsen

Labelled as a stretch suiting I'd call it a stretch poly gaberdine as it's got that visible twill weave and smooth finish. It comes in a range of neutral colours and I'd very much recommend it for tailoring projects that you want a bit of movement or give in. At £14 it's a bit more than I'd usually pay for a black basic but I knew it would be perfect and I'd pay a lot more than £25 for a pair of RTW trousers like this.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Stretch Gaberdine Flint Pants from Megan Nielsen

I cut the size S which is a teeny bit larger than my measurements but I was concerned about them being snug around the hips as proportionally I've got a bit of a bum on me! They did come up quite large on the waist so I just moved the button over by 1.5" which worked out quite well to give me a snug fit. I think this may have something to do with the stretch in the fabric as I haven't had as much of a problem with the pair I'm currently making but then the waistband is interfaced so it shouldn't have stretched out. I'm training for a half marathon at the minute and all that running seems to be doing some crazy things to my measurements so that's made keeping track of fitting a little tricky!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Stretch Gaberdine Flint Pants from Megan Nielsen

Fit wise they're fairly easy to manage because of the loose fitting style. I think I could do with a really tiny sway back adjustment as I have a little bit of excess fabric sitting below the waistband but it's nothing to overly bother me. I did put a lot of consideration into the length as I don't exactly have the longest legs in the world and was concerned about the cropped length really not working for me. The length of these was going to be key to their success! Before hemming I tried them on with pretty much every pair of shoes in my wardrobe to find the optimum length for all possible occasions and whilst I'd usually only pin up a section of the hem to check it I pinned up both legs so I could properly see how they would look. I ended up removing 1.5" from the hem and used the recommend 2.5" hem allowance.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Stretch Gaberdine Flint Pants from Megan Nielsen

The fastening on these is genius and a detail unlike anything I've seen before on RTW or otherwise. The waistband overlaps slightly to one side and opens up into the pocket to give you enough room to get in and out, eliminating the need for a zip or fly. You have the option to use buttons to fasten the waistband or a tie which I opted for as I love this kind of unusual detail. If you're concerned about the tie not being secure enough fear not, there's an additional button fastening hidden inside the waistband to keep things safe. This also provides the perfect opportunity to use up those odd beautiful buttons you've been hoarding but never quite know what to do with! I think my button is a discarded sample from a show I was working on a couple of years ago; I remember getting it in Cloth House on Berwick Street.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Stretch Gaberdine Flint Pants from Megan Nielsen

I was going to say that the fastening was my favourite thing about this pattern but actually there's so much else to love! Just the general cut of the trouser is fab; the width of the leg is spot on and super comfortable yet chic. I really like the release tucks and the way the front hangs because of them and also the deep hem gives a bit of weight which again helps the way they hang and move. The hem was a little tricky to sew as the widening of the leg plus depth of the turn up means you've got a much wider edge to fit into a narrower space. I noticed in the sew-along that Megan suggests to fold down the excess fabric near a seam and sew over it which is exactly what I did but I wasn't personally sure about that finish. Now I've decided on my ideal length I might adjust the pattern next time so that the leg pieces start to taper in again from the hem line to match the area that the hem allowance will be turning up into. Another construction aspect I thought might be tricky was topstitching along the bottom edge of the waistband to secure it inside but I'm really pleased with how neat that has turned out.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Stretch Gaberdine Flint Pants from Megan Nielsen

I bought the PDF of the pattern as I was so impatient to make them and ended up printing way more pages than I needed to because the waistband for versions 1 & 3 isn't nested and each size prints individually. And I wasn't even making that version! Entirely my own fault as I forgot that on the first page of Megan's PDFs she lists exactly which pages you need to print for which version and size to save you wasting your paper. This is a feature I really loved when I made her Dove Blouse so I'm annoyed at myself for forgetting! Something for you to bear in mind if you're planning on using the PDF.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Stretch Gaberdine Flint Pants from Megan Nielsen

I couldn't be happier with this combo of pattern and fabric and can see me wearing them all year round as I'd definitely layer them over tights with ankle boots in the winter. As it's such a new shape to incorporate into my wardrobe I thought I might have some trouble styling them but my favourite thing about them is how surprisingly versatile they are! I love them styled down with a t-shirt and pumps or trainers like in the majority of these pictures but they are so easy to dress up too. I wore them to the press night of my latest show with my Inari Cropped Tee and a pair or wedges but they also look great and feel super sophisticated with a pair of killer heels. A total triumph of a garment.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Chambray Flint Pants from Megan Nielsen

The proof of how much I love this pattern is in the fact that my sewing queue is out of control right now but the photo above is already happening! I decided my wardrobe could absolutely benefit from a pair on more of a summer weight so am using this beautiful chambray from Sew Over It to make a pair pretty much exactly like Megan's sample. And a pair of the shorts in striped linen are on the list too!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Stretch Gaberdine Flint Pants from Megan Nielsen

Sunday, 30 April 2017

April Indie Pattern Update



I love it when the end of the month falls on a Sunday as it's the perfect day to relax with a cuppa, browse through this month's releases and get inspired to spend the rest of the day sewing! Plus if you're in the UK like me it's a bank holiday tomorrow and you've got two whole days to enjoy it! I know I've got plenty of sewing planned, it's deciding where to start that's the problem...There's been a real focus on summer styles in the patterns launched this month with breezy boxy cotton tops aplenty and handful of contemporary updates to the classic shirtdress. The summer wardrobe of my dreams is growing by the minute inside my head. I just to find the time to sew it!

New Pattern Companies



  • Workroom Social introduced the first pattern in their Drape collection. Drape 1001 features a wide boat neck and yoke and loose fitting sleeves with tailored cuffs. I found their behind the scenes post about the pattern instructions really interesting and am keen to see more! I like the look of lots of the well thought out little details in their booklets including checklists, finished garment measurements laid out right next to the body measurements and pattern pieces drawn out in the order they come together which makes the construction process easier to understand at a glance. They seem to have eliminated lots of the little niggles I sometimes encounter following a pattern, like clearly laying out the seam allowance size at the start of each step.


New Patterns


  • I'm absolutely starting off this list shamelessly with the pattern I designed for Tribe Patterns by The Foldline which was released earlier this month (after almost forgetting to include it altogether!) The Parker Dress and Top has a seventies inspired boho vibe with a panelled skirt and bodice lending itself to embroidery and mixing colours and prints. You can read more about the design and inspiration behind it here.
  • The new releases from Style Arc this month included the Maisie Designer Dress, Keely Knit Top (one of this month's freebies with on trend ruffles) and the Trudy Tunic and Pant. The trousers have a really cool tie front and despite having the comfort and practicality of a pull on elasticated back they look super chic. I also like the look of the pieced front yoke of their new Sage Stretch Pant.
  • I'm a little bit obsessed with every sample I've seen of the new Fenway Bra from Orange Lingerie. It looks to be so versatile in terms of what you can do with lace and sheer panels and I absolutely love the shape which is baseball inspired, hence the name!
  • Released with this month's edition of Seamwork Magazine were the Gretta Top and Leonora Skirt. I adore the skirt which has all the traditional features of a denim garment with flat felled seams, a back yoke and jeans style stitching and hardware. I'm hopeful that this is a sign of good things to come from their new approach and that future patterns will continue to have this level of detail.
  • New from True Bias is the Lodo Dress; a chic and grown up t-shirt dress with a subtle cocoon shape and my favourite grown on cap sleeves. 
  • The Piper Top is the latest pattern from Christine Haynes. I love how it is inspired by tops of the 1960s a definitely retains that vibe but is so bang on trend and contemporary at the same time especially with the mid bicep sleeve length. 
  • Wardrobe by Me released the Blixen Blazer which is designed for knit fabrics. This classic style features a two piece sleeve and welt pockets and I like the variation which includes a waist seam across the back creating a peplum.
  • Itch to Stitch have been busy with two new patterns launched this month. The La Paz Jacket is a cracker with princess seams and separate cup sizes providing the opportunity to a chief a perfect fit. The Anza Jumpsuit and Dress has a button front, patch breast pockets and drawstring waist; an elegant casual style.
  • Also with two new pattern releases are Sew Over It. Their PDF pattern this month is the elegant kimono sleeved Ella Blouse and also in the wrap style the paper and PDF pattern release of their much anticipated Eve Dress. I had the pleasure of testing this gorgeous romantic style and can vouch for how lovely it is to sew and wear.
  • Allie Olsen from Indie Sew released the Highlands Wrap Dress as part of the Spring/Summer Collection from various designers. I'll really like the straight cut of the skirt and wide belt and can see it working really well in crisp cottons.
  • The Farrah Blouse & Dress is new from Chalk & Notch. It's a sleeveless style with feminine ruffle details running either around the armhole in a wide loop or across the front yoke seam. I'm a sucker for a split hem at the moment too.
  • Patterns for Pirates released their Favourite Tee pattern of which there is also a youth version available. It's a figure skimming style with v-neck or scoop neck options as well as different sleeve lengths. It's refreshing to see so many hem style options too, including side vents, curved hems and a banded version with knot tie.
  • A big hit on social media this month was the release of the Kalle Shirt & Shirtdress from Closet Case Patterns. The pattern was inspired by a self drafted dress Heather Lou made herself last year and includes top, tunic and dress variations all featuring short cuffed kimono sleeves, a curved yoke and shaped hem.
  • New from The Maker's Atelier is the Flip Collar Shirtdress. It's an oversized pull-on style with the variations uniquely focusing on the back of the skirt with pleated, plain or button-up options.
  • I have a feeling the new Collins Top from In The Folds could prove to be very popular for summer. The panelling is really interesting and beautifully highlighted by the crisp stripes chosen for their sample. I'd have a hard time deciding whether to go sleeveless or with the three piece short raglan sleeves.
  • New from Tessuti is the Bella Dress. This simple, long-sleeved, a-line style is made for beautiful fabrics that you want to show off like the lovely soft linen they've used for their sample.
  • Di Nuvole Di Cuori released the Atena Blouse. It has billowing raglan sleeves, gathered around the wrist and a peplum created by a tie around the waist.
  • New from On The Cutting Floor is the downloadable High Low Skater Dress. It's designed for knits and I like that there is no waist seam. It has a real natural simplicity to it.
  • Republique du Chiffon launched their Spring-Summer 2017 collection earlier this month. It features six new patterns including a dress, jacket, trousers, blouse, skirt and shorts and I think those gorgeous pleated Allister Shorts with the pocket detail are my favourite! 
  • Another French company who released their Spring-Summer collection this month are Louis Antoinette with their Heroines Collection. The three piece collection includes the Simone Dress, Jos├ęphine Skirt and Janis Jacket. I'd kind of love all three in my wardrobe but am most taken with the shoulders and big pockets on the long length jacket.
  • Kommatia released a patterns for a jersey dress with choker style neck and  relaxed fit v-neck t-shirt with curved hem and cuffed sleeves. It's a really great wardrobe staple that is like so many of the RTW tees I own. I can see myself making a pile of handmade replacements soon.
  • 5 Out Of 4 Patterns have just released the Escapade Top and Dress pattern which you can make up as a bikini, tank, tankini, swim dress and summer dress thanks to it's shelf bra with optional removable cups. Its even got a maternity option!
  • New from Hot Patterns are the HP1216 Garden Party Tees and the HP1217 Utility Cargo Pants. The tees are designed for slouchy knits and have some interesting panelling going on as well as tips for braid insertions and embroidery while the trousers have princess seams for perfect fit and optional pockets.
  • The Waimea Ranch Shirt is the latest release from Victoria Jones Collection. It's a shaped shirt with all the classic western styling built in including that pointed saddle yoke. I've got some amazing cactus print viscose in may stash which I was going to hack the yoke of a Sewaholic Granville for but now I have no need!
  • Designer Stitch released Eleni which is a hugely versatile pattern for an off the shoulder top, tunic, dress or maxi dress. The variations include four different on trend voluminous sleeve styles plus optional straps, flounces, neck and waist ties. One to have fun with for summer.
  • Vanessa Pouzet has released a free pattern download for the Magnum Sleep Mask which includes three sizes including kids. She is running a competition on Facebook and Instagram to win three of her patterns; to enter make and post your own version of the sleep mask (added challenge it closes at the end of the day today!).
  • New from French pattern company On Dirait Des Vraies is the very elegant Slowly Jacket. It has a feminine tailored cut and I love the shape of the neckline, the curved edge of which highlights the collar bone.


Pattern Updates and Expansion Packs


  • Grainline Studio released two downloadable expansion packs for their Lark Tee pattern; the first includes everything you need to turn your tee into a spring cardigan and the second a dress of two lengths which combined with all the neckline and sleeve options of the original pattern gives you enough choice to make a whole wardrobe! 
  • Printed versions of the Arccos Undies and Euler Bralette are now available from Sophie Hines at All the Underwear. I love the long line version of the Euler with that second under bust band.


Sew-alongs


  • The sew-along for Megan Nielsen's recently released Flint Pants & Shorts has just concluded over on her blog. I'll let you in on the fact that I've made one pair which I'll be blogging about soon and love them so much that I've already cut another out. Get on it guys!
  • Accompanying the release of her new Lodo Dress Kelli from True Bias has a sew-along for it up on her blog. I always enjoy taking a look at sew-along posts whether I'm making the garment or not as it gives a further insight into clever construction details that you might miss in the sample photos or line drawings. In this case it's the fact that there is a woven facing for stability providing opportunity to use a fun constructing print.
  • Over on the Jennifer Lauren Handmade blog a sew-along is running for the Juniper Cardigan which she released last month. Following along with these detailed posts would make this a great project for a knit newbie.
  • Closet Case Patterns are going to be running a thorough sew-along for their new Kalle Shirt & Shirtdress including lots of tips for future shirt-making projects. Definitely going to be bookmarking that one.


Upcoming!


  • Jen from Grainline Studio teased us with the news that her next printed pattern will be coming early in June but has given us no hint as to what it might be!
  • I'm really excited to see that there's a new collection coming from Papercut Patterns soon! I always find their designs so inventive and unusual, there's bound to be at least one or two to love. 
  • Straight Stitch Designs are currently testing the Eastlake Dress
  • The Marama Jacket is to be the next release from Pearl Red Moon at Boho Banjo. Her designs aren't really what I like to wear but I'm quite taken with the four exposed back darts and uneven  length of the front and neck bands on this.
  • Maven Patterns are all set to release the Rochester Top & Dress soon. That deep faced curved hem is lovely and I'm looking forward to seeing more.
  • By Hand London have two new patterns coming very soon. One of which is the Orsola Dress and Skirt and the other I might have had a little play with during pattern testing. Cait wait to show you all!
  • The Belvedere Waistcoat PDF pattern from Thread Theory is set to be released next week. It looks like it will be a great addition to their increasing range of menswear patterns. 
  • Look out for the new pattern from The Avid Seamstress on 5th May! The A-Line dress is sure to be another great addition to her collection of classic wardrobe staples.


Other Exciting News



Feel free to leave any news I may have missed in the comments below. If all that hasn't inspired you to get behind the machine enough then as usual here's a little motivation from the online sewing community to get you going! I'm off to sew the rest of the day away!



  • I can't stop looking at and saving embroidery inspiration at the moment and wishing I had the time for it. Marcy used embroidery perfectly on her amazing Birkin Flared Jeans!
  • I like the emerging trend for gingham but have been struggling with how to work it into my wardrobe. Carolyn has done amazing work choosing this flowing gingham for her Kalle Shirtdress.
  • Rachel's Kelly Anorak is ace and has inspired me to crack on with mine this week. I really like the little aglets on the ends of her drawstring and soft-shell was an excellent fabric choice!
  • I fought against it but had to include Marcy twice this month! This might be my favourite ever garment using the Negroni pattern. The pattern was made for hemp and made to be worn by her Dad and she's done such a gorgeous job on it.
  • She hasn't blogged about it yet but Helena from Gray All Day made a wonderful version of the new Anza Jumpsuit pattern. The combination of dark solid colour and gold buttons is so classy.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Pattern Testing: Eve Dress from Sew Over It

I am pattern testing much less nowadays as it can be really time consuming when you do it throughly and to be brutally honest my sewing queue is so long that I'm never short of things that I'd rather be sewing! However there are some things that I just can't resist and will squeeze in no matter how busy I am and the new Eve Dress from Sew Over It was one of them! I always enjoy testing for Lisa and the ladies on the Sew Over It team as they really do value and incorporate the feedback from their testers. It's not just a last minute 'quick let's get a few other people to sew this up so they'll blog about it' they use it as a key part of the process to iron out every tiny mistake and make the final release the best it can be. Blogging about what I've made is never a requirement and sometimes I don't but I've been dying to share this one with you.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sew Over It Eve Dress in Maroon Floral Viscose

The Eve Dress has been one of the most requested garments from their classes to be released as a separate pattern and is now available in both PDF and paper form. It's a wrap style, designed for woven fabrics and there are two variations included in the pattern. Version 1 has statement flutter sleeves and a dramatic dipped hem and version 2 has more of a contemporary feel with slim elbow length sleeves and a straight hem. Of course I totally succumbed to the the seventies drama of those flutter sleeves and the high-low hem!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sew Over It Eve Dress in Maroon Floral Viscose

Sew Over It supplied the fabric for testing and I decided to choose mine in person at the Knitting & Stitching Show as I felt it was really important to get the right weight and drape for this flowing style. I actually really struggled with choosing fabric as version 1 is a very feminine style for me. My wardrobe does get a bit girly but when the style is so pretty I tend to favour darker, richer colours in solids or larger scale prints to balance it out. A lot of the fabric on their stand with the movement I was after was in pastels and small florals which would make a gorgeous Eve but wasn't for me. But when I returned to the stand when things had quietened down at the end of the day a bolt of just what I was looking for leapt out at me and my decision was made. It's a very fine viscose with the cool, smooth hand I love to wear and it flows and moves beautifully.  It is a little sheer in direct light so I will probably have to wear it with a slip on a sunny day which is a shame as I like how the viscose feels against the skin. Perhaps I should have considered a lining or underling but that would have been quite a huge job and it's a little late now!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sew Over It Eve Dress in Maroon Floral Viscose

I had 3m of the fabric (the final pattern recommends slightly more) and the only reason I needed all of it was the length of the waist ties! I will point out that I never follow layout charts and prefer to jiggle the pattern pieces around to use as little fabric as possible. I had about 3/4m of fabric left over with only a slither missing from the side where I had cut the ties. If you're short on fabric and cutting one of the smaller sizes you might want to consider slimming down the skirt panels slightly so you can fit the ties alongside them across the width of your fabric. I personally wouldn't want the make the ties any shorter as I love the way the wrap around the waist rather than just tying at the back where they first meet. Turning through that length of tube will test your patience as they are quite slim but I love the width as anything wider would feel a bit clunky on this romantic style.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sew Over It Eve Dress in Maroon Floral Viscose

As much as I love the movement of the fabric now it's sewn up it did give me some trouble during cutting and construction! The shiftiness of it, particularly against itself made keeping things on grain when cutting a real challenge and the construction required a lot of pins to keep everything in place. Sewing the ties on with nice neat rectangles of stitching was exceptionally difficult and I haven't done a brilliant job but fortunately the print hides it! Luckily the viscose holds a nice crisp crease when pressed which made all the turning under and stitching required around the front edge and hems a doddle. You don't want to use a fabric which frays badly as the front edge plus hem of the skirt and sleeves are achieved by simply finishing the edges either with an overlocker or zig zag/over-edge stitch on your regular machine, turning them under and stitching.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sew Over It Eve Dress in Maroon Floral Viscose

Sew Over It do recommend using a cotton lawn or voile if you are new to sewing and I would heartily agree after my shifty viscose experience! Fine and drapey fabrics can be very shifty and with all the little details going on in this design I think that could make it tricky for anyone without a bit of sewing experience under their belt. I'm actually not a huge fan of lawn for dressmaking as although lightweight it does have a fairly crisp hand and doesn't drape or flow anything like as well as a viscose crepe or silk georgette. I think it's more suited to shirts and styles with a bit of structure. However with this design it could add some really interesting body to the skirt whilst the weight would retain the breezy feel and the wrap portion of the bodice is quite close fitting so you don't need to be worried about how it will drape in this area.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sew Over It Eve Dress in Maroon Floral Viscose

I cut between the size 8-10 as I always do with Sew Over It patterns as that pretty much exactly matches my measurements and am really happy with the fit. One of the things that I love about their designs is that they really understand what is flattering and comfortable on a woman's body and this is no exception. The wrap bodice has just the right amount of fabric in it and fits closely at the shoulders thanks to the yoke pieces. The patterns fit true to size as well without too much ease. As it is designed with a relaxed fit there is some ease in the back of the bodice but the shaped centre back seam means it still fits well rather than pooling strangely. The waist size on this is spot on as it doesn't do that annoying thing that I've had with wrap dresses before when the dress starts to come through the hole you thread the tie through when tied as tight as you want.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sew Over It Eve Dress in Maroon Floral Viscose

As usual it did come up very long on me! I can see from the pictures of Lisa modelling it that version 1 is designed to be more of a midi length but on 5ft 3" me with the dipped hem that looked a bit overwhelming. When I first tried it on the front hem was hitting 5" below my knee so I chopped off 4.5" all round. I thought those wide curved skirt panels would mean my shifty viscose would drop all kinds of wonky so I left it to hang for 24 hours before hemming but it actually didn't do much.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sew Over It Eve Dress in Maroon Floral Viscose

The height of the neckline and placement of the wrap is great but as my fabric is so slippery I do feel a little bit at risk of exposure as the dress shifts about so have chosen to add a tiny popper at the centre of the neckline to keep things in place. The overlap of the wrap on the skirt is a generous amount and I don't at all feel concerned about this blowing open. The only other thing I did differently to the instructions was to attach my ties before hemming the dress so I could put it on properly and asses the length. I did pick up a handful of other little niggles with the instructions e.t.c while testing but I imagine if you make up the final pattern it will look very similar to mine here as they were only very small and no major changes were made to the drafting.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sew Over It Eve Dress in Maroon Floral Viscose

I think the trickiest part of sewing a wrap dress is probably not stretching out the front edges of the bodice. That edge is on the bias so it's very easy to do but it's really important to keep a close fit in that area as you want it to hug the body and not gape open. The Eve instructions have you reinforce this edge with stay tape to stop it stretching out over time and my favourite part of the pattern is that the instructions include a chart explaining the length of stay tape you will need. It breaks it down into what length you need for the front bodice, yoke, and back neckline for each size so you can mark these points on your tape and check that nothing has stretch out to longer than it should be during construction. If it has you can ease the edges of your dress onto the tape to ensure a closer fit. Such  great idea.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sew Over It Eve Dress in Maroon Floral Viscose

Now I've finished it of course I'm seeing viscose prints all over the place and I want to make more! But I'm really happy I trusted my instincts with the maroon as although the flutter sleeves and breezy wrap skirt lend themselves to more of a summer style I reckon I could get away with styling this with dark tights and smart ankle boots in autumn and winter too. This dress plus strappy sandals would be the perfect summer wedding guest outfit; it's a shame I haven't got any to go to this year but I have got a few press nights for work which I reckon it could be just the ticket for too!