Friday, 31 July 2015

July Indie Pattern Update!

July has been a bit of a strange month for me and I am therefore WAY behind in my blog reading so I apologise if this month's update misses the mark somewhat...I've done my best to keep up with all the exciting new pattern releases this month but please do help me out by pointing out in the comments anything I may have missed and I'll update the post as speedily as I can! As soon as I've finished writing this I'm settling down with a cup of tea to see what you lovely lot have been sewing over the last few weeks!

New Patterns

  • Republique du Chiffon have released the Nadine Shirt and Charlotte Skirt PDF patterns. I'm yet to try sewing a pattern from this french company because of the language barrier but I love so many designs I'm going to have to take the plunge soon, possibly with one of these two!
  • Ohhh Lulu released the Hilda Bike Shorts which were a free pattern for the duration of July. A great idea to wear under breezy summer dresses if you need a bit of modesty for the unpredictable UK weather!
  • Steph from Cake Patterns revealed the second wave of her Tidepool Collection. This release included the Urchin Skirt & Shorts which have a pleated, elasticated waistband, and the Scallop and Miter Shell Tops which feature sailors knot and woven details within the back necklines.
  • Style Arc's July releases include the Candice Skirt and Skye Top. I also really like the look of the Esme Top which has a boxy shape and funnel neck and is designed for stable knits.
  • The latest pattern from Muse Patterns is the Sophie Cardigan. I love the twist Kat applies to classic designs and this is no exception with three different necklines including a sporty bomber style with zip front which really appeals to me.
  • Kennis from Itch to Stitch released the Angelia Shorts and Kathryn Top & Dress. The shorts in particular look to be a great pattern and satisfying sew with lots of pocket, tab and cuff options to play with.
  • I'm a big fan of the quality of the Sewaholic Patterns and was delighted to see that their latest duo of releases are right up my street. The Harwood and Nicola Dresses are both variations on the classic shirt dress and I love how their versatility has been shown with the styling of the promo pics.
  • Tilly and the Buttons also released two patterns this month; the Bettine Dress and Fifi Summer Loungewear Set. I've got the Fifi cut out and ready to sew...I couldn't resist sewing up such a cute pattern with that name could I?!
  • Pearl Red Moon released the Ellice Skirt and Trousers pattern. It has three variations including a simple a-line skirt, skirt version with a peplum over layer and wide legged culottes which can be made cuffed or un-cuffed. 
  • The latest design from Pattern Fantastique is the Lucent Visor. I love how unique their patterns are and how they really look for gaps within the range of patterns and styles currently available.
  • Alice from Queen of Darts (F.K.A. Moonbeam) has recently made available a free download of the Picnic Dress pattern she drafted for herself. It's currently only available in her size and with no instructions as it's very straightforward to assemble and alter.
  • Hot Patterns released the Trilogy Dress, Tunic and Top, which I really like the simple lines of. They are also re-releasing an updated version of their previously discontinued Sunshine Top with a pleated neckline and long sleeve option. It should be available in September.
  • Wear Lemonade released the Lolita Dress and Paloma Dungarees this month. Make My Lemonade is a site I have only just discovered but am a now a bit addicted to. Be aware the pattern instructions are all in French but there are videos to accompany each pattern!
  • Dana from Dana Made It released the Anywhere Skirt pattern this month. It's suitable for girls and adults and features a either partly or fully gathered skirt with button front and optional waist sash.


  • The sew-along for Colette Patterns' recently released Aster Blouse started over on mid month. The posts stay up and freely available afterwards so don't worry if you want to take part and have missed the start.
  • Maris from Sew Maris has just started a sew-along over on her blog for the Emily Culottes pattern from Itch to Stitch. It began earlier this week but there's still plenty of time to catch up!


  • Itch to Stitch put out a call for testers for their upcoming release, the Carey Top which features drawstring gathered dolman sleeves and a shirttail style shaped hem.
  • I'm really excited about the release of the Splash Swimsuit which is coming soon from Lily Sage & Co after spotting a couple of sneak peaks on Instagram and their blog. The style lines are gorgeous!
  • There's soon to be a new kid on the indie pattern company block! Atelier Louise are launching their very first pattern at some point in August and are going to be focusing on patterns for shoes and accessories. Peta has trained as both a shoemaker and milliner so I'm really looking forward to seeing her designs.
  • There's a new pattern coming soon from Sew House Seven, all we know so far is that it's a summer style! They also announced that their patterns will be printed on tissue in future rather than hard paper, which you can read more about here.

Other Exciting News

  • Lilith & Eve's first pattern the LE1101 Drapey Blouse, which was released a couple of months ago, is now available to purchase in paper form so if the PDF format has been putting you off now's the chance!
  • If you dabble in a bit of crochet you may be interested to know that the ladies at By Hand London have teamed up with Wool and the Gang and released a pattern for a crochet crop top. The Lex pattern is available for free on the BHL blog or you can purchase a pack over at Wool and the Gang.
  • The release of Papercut Patterns' back catalogue in PDF form continues with this month seeing the release of the Midsummer Night's Dream, La Sylphide and Rite of Spring Shorts.
  • The new Harwood and Nicola Dress patterns from Sewaholic are their first to be available in French, Spanish and Dutch. They have also just released French versions of their Thurlow, Renfrew and Cambie patterns.
  • Similar to last month's add on pack for their jacket pattern, Waffle Patterns released a free pack of pattern parts for a cropped curved hem variation of their Pancake Blouse. I really love the idea of making already existing patterns more versatile rather than having to purchase an entirely new one.

As I say please do feel free to point me in the direction of any news I may have missed or mistaken and I'll be sure to update the post. To finish up here's some indie sewing inspiration from across the blogosphere!

  • I adore Reana Lousie's version of one of my favourite patterns, the Scout Tee, which she made up in gorgeous Nano Iro gauze. The changes of adding a peplum and lengthening the sleeves I might have to try!
  • I was seriously tempted to buy the Maison Fleur Swimsuit pattern when it was released last month and now I've seen Anna's gorgeous version of it I'm even more so!
  • Another pattern I'm now majorly tempted to make is the Grainline Cascade Duffel Coat. Kirsten's version is so classic and yet an absolute statement garment in vivid red!
  • I think Marilla's wool version of the BHL Victoria Blazer is my favourite so far! It works so well in the heavier weight wool being slightly boxy and oversized and I love that she added welt pockets.
  • The amazing rayon challis that Lauren chose for her version of the Southport Dress is just a perfect match for the pattern. I'd love to have a wardrobe of dresses like this for summer!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Thoughts on Sleeve Heads and Shoulder Pads

I posted my Electric Blue Biker Jacket version of the Pauline Alice Quart Coat a few weeks ago and said I'd be back to talk in more detail about the construction of the shoulders and sleeve heads. The shaping of these is probably the one aspect of the jacket that I'm most proud of. Which is surprising as they were the one element of construction that I was most concerned about! After setting in the sleeves themselves (probably my least favourite sewing technique but which went smoother than I ever imagined because of the beautiful crepe's response to shaping with steam) there was the question of how to tackle the sleeve heads and shoulder pads. I did a lot of research and experimentation so I thought you might be interested to read about that here.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Quart Biker Jacket Sleeve Heads and Shoulder Pads Tips

It was my first real experience of inserting either of these elements and I was slightly concerned about how extreme the effect of using both of them might be but after trying on the jacket before, after sleeve heads and then after shoulder pads I can say that they really make a noticeably beautiful difference. Sleeve heads on their own are like magic; filling and lifting the top of the sleeve slightly so it sits level with the shoulder instead of hanging limply down from the seam. This really effects how the whole sleeve hangs around the arm.

I bought my supplies from Macculloch & Wallis which is generally a failsafe option for any good quality haberdashery supplies, if a little on the expensive side. Their new store on Poland Street in Soho is pretty great by the way, so much more roomy and days to navigate plus closer to all the fabric shops on Berwick Street! They also have an online shop if you are based outside of London and need something a little unusual. This is what I bought for my sleeve heads. It comes on a roll so you can cut it to the length that you need. This does mean that they are rectangular though and a lot of the advice I could find online used shaped versions. I might try drafting my own next time as I came across a great post from Poppy Kettle about how she drafted her own using the sleeve pattern piece to give her the shape.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Quart Biker Jacket Sleeve Heads and Shoulder Pads Tips

There were so many shapes and sizes of shoulder pads available at MacCulloch and Wallis I was a little overwhelmed! After trying out lots on my shoulders and weeding out the moulded and raglan options I'm fairly certain these are the pads I went for. They are actually surprisingly inexpensive and I'm glad I went to the effort of a special trip to buy these rather than the covered ones they sell in packs in John Lewis and some fabric shops. I think these provide a much better shape. The covered ones are more suited to using in dresses e.t.c when the pad is not concealed within the construction of the garment. Despite being really happy with these I might attempt to make my own from cotton batting next time as I found loads of tutorials on that when looking for advice on how to put them in!

I did a lot of research into how to insert both items and actually found it tricky to find clear instructions on either. It was the positioning I was most confused about rather than how to attach them; should the shoulder pad extend into the seam allowance of the armsyce and therefore into the head of the sleeve or should it butt up against the seam line? In the end I used a trial and error method to see which I thought looked best and left it butted up against the seam. Please fell free to tell me if I've got this completely wrong!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Quart Biker Jacket Sleeve Heads and Shoulder Pads Tips

With the sleeve heads I took the advice of Clare Shaeffer in her book 'Couture Sewing - Tailoring Techniques' which I was lucky enough to receive from my brother last Christmas. I used 8" of sleeve head in each armhole, aligning the folded edge of the sleeve head with the edge of the seam allowance and positioning it so that there was 3.5" in front of the shoulder seam and 4.5" behind. I was still feeling remarkably unconfident that I was doing this correctly as when the seam allowance is pushed into the sleeve head it means you end up with a double layer where it folds back on itself (technically triple as the sleeve head already has a folded edge) and this combined with the seam allowances seemed rather a lot but looking at the fullness of the finished shoulder I'm sure I've got it right!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Quart Biker Jacket Sleeve Heads and Shoulder Pads Tips

I hand stitched both the pads and heads in by hand after pinning them in the correct position and trying the jacket on. I stitched along the stitched line that was already there on the sleeve head, which was lined up with the armhole stitching line; just with a simple running stitch. The shoulder pad I loosely tacked in along the straight edge at the armhole and then at the shoulder seam closest to the neck. My research said that it was important not to stitch the pads in too firmly as they need to be able to move within the jacket to sit right on the shoulders.

What are your experiences with sleeve heads and shoulder pads? Have you got any tips or preferences to share with me?

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Italian Silk Emmeline Tee (and a giveaway winner!)

Yes this is the third version of the Emmeline Tee from The Little Tailoress that I am sharing with you within a couple of months! I was always planning on making more as I've fallen hard for this little pattern and have been practically living in my other two but I wasn't going to bore you all to tears sharing every single one...until Marine from Supercut contacted me to ask if I would like to sew something up in a remnant of some beautiful Italian silk crepe she had chosen for me. I instantly thought Emmeline and it's turned out so well I couldn't resist sharing the fabric with you. 

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Italian Silk Emmeline Tee

Supercut are an online fabric store based in Italy. They stock a stunning selection of fabrics from high quality brands including Liberty, Merchant & Mills and Linna Morata along with a gorgeous range of notions and haberdashery. Marine sent me a selection of samples with my silk and I'm kind of in love with this cotton shirting which is embroidered with little spectacles! If like me you're not based in Italy you may be feeling slightly put off by the international delivery charges. Within the EU I think they're already fairly reasonable at €12 for up to 2kg but Supercut also offer a storage and delivery option which I think is a great idea. You can group up to three orders together over a period of time until you reach the necessary €150 total including VAT to receive free shipping. They will store your orders until you make your last order and ship them altogether, meaning you can take advantage of sales and offers or make sure you pick up your favourite fabric before it sells out (You can of course order from outside of the EU but will need to contact Marine for shipping details and prices). I've also ended up posting about this at a great time for you guys as there's currently a pretty great sale on with up to 50% off some fabrics!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Italian Silk Emmeline Tee

Anyway, back to the sewing which you all came here for! As I was so pleased with my previous versions I cut the XS size again and used view 2 with the raglan sleeves which I used for my silk georgette version previously. This silk crepe has a bit more body to it and an ever so slightly crisp hand which has given the sleeves a bit more of a structural shape compared to the soft drape of the lightweight georgette. I needed less than a metre of the silk which is another reason why this pattern has become a firm favourite! It's great for using up your stash and scraps too as you could definitely use a contrasting colour or print for the raglan sleeves and binding. I might have enough left of this silk to use them as sleeves paired with a plain navy body actually...hmmm!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Italian Silk Emmeline Tee

Despite being lightweight this silk crepe is actually pretty robust. It has a lovely matt and dense finish to it which meant it wasn't too problematic to cut as it's not particularly delicate or shifty. The texture of the crepe gives it some grip so I just used pins and sheers. The fabric does really show and keep pin and needle holes though so make sure to keep your pins within the seam allowance with fabrics like this and try to avoid doing any unpicking! I did consider using french seams throughout on this project as Ami includes instructions for this and it's a great simple garment to practice this technique on. However as the silk was fairly dense I was worried about a french seam becoming too bulky and opted to finish all my seams on the overlocker...also making the whole construction process a lot quicker!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Italian Silk Emmeline Tee

I did have a bit of a nightmare working out how to get my machine to behave with this fabric. Stitches were skipping like crazy. It wasn't even just the odd stitch but there were inches at a time where the needle hadn't perforated the fabric properly and seemed to be just bouncing off. It's hard to describe but it felt like my machine was really chugging along rather than running smoothly and it sounded and felt like the needle was punching at the fabric rather than piercing it. 

I did a bit of online research and discovered quite a few people have had similar issues with certain types of silk crepe. I've sewn with lighter weight and softer crepes before and never had a problem but I think it's dense nature was the issue. I couldn't find one ultimate solution to my problem, just a smattering of advice on things to try which might help, so I decided to take a trial and error approach with some scrap fabric. First I tried all sorts of needles to not much avail. I had started with a sharps needle and tried a few different sizes of these before moving on to standard needles and even ball point and stretch! In the end I reverted back to my original choice of a size 80 sharps needle. Employing my walking foot made a slight difference but man did my machine then like to chew up the fabric at the beginning and end of each seam! Backstitching was a total no go. 

What finally made the most substantial difference was changing the thread. I had been using a cheap Moon polyester as it was the best colour match but I changed to a Gutterman Sew All thread and suddenly no more skipped stitches! Well almost none...I had to go back over a couple of points. It might have been even better with a silk thread but I had none to hand. Lesson learned; don't try and save on thread!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Italian Silk Emmeline Tee

Despite the tricky time I had sewing up the fabric, once I had worked out the best way to handle it was a super speedy project. This top comes together so quickly and this is even the most time consuming view as it has the extra sleeve pieces to deal with! The most tricky aspect of the top is the binding along the neckline as it is very narrow, but I love how it looks so I wouldn't want to change that! I'm again really pleased with how my neckline binding turned out. This was mainly helped by how well this particular silk pressed although Ami's method and instructions are very thorough too. I have found some silk crepes to be quite bouncy but I used a medium heat on my iron with lots of steam and this ensured the silk really held a nice crisp edge.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Italian Silk Emmeline Tee

The Emmeline Tee might be the perfect way for the winner of last week's giveaway to use their chosen metre of fabric from Fabrics for Sale! I've finally got around to selecting a winner! Chosen by random number generator the lucky recipient is...Katy M who had her eye on this beautiful Wiltshire Liberty Tana Lawn! Congratulations Katy; you are of course free to change you mind so have another look and have fun choosing and sewing your fabric! I'll send you an email shortly putting you in touch with the ladies at Fabrics for Sale to confirm your choice.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Giveaway from Fabrics For Sale!

Just a quick post for you all today to introduce you to a newly launched online fabric store called Fabrics For Sale. I've been keen to spread the word about this new opening as I really like the look of the site and the products they are offering. The company operate out of a warehouse in Leicester, UK and offer a selection of fabrics for dressmaking and upholstery at very reasonable prices. I love that the company is operated by a team of young women who are passionate about fabric and about offering us home sewers with a more varied and unusual choice.

Their stock is sourced from all over the world and includes technologically forward and digitally printed designs alongside classics such as Liberty prints. I'm particularly drawn to their fairly substantial selection of viscose/rayon which I often find hard to get hold of in prints and colours I like here in the UK. These are a few of the many that have caught my eye and may soon be making their way into my shopping basket...

This stunning rayon burnout is screaming to be used for the yoke of a little black dress or as the top layer of a fluffy 1950s style skirt.

Liberty AND shoes...need I say more??

This is a beautiful rayon print which I feel like I absolutely HAVE to make a billowing maxi length wrap dress out of.

Minty green 100% silk satin. Perfect for a 1930s style evening dress.

Along with a Sew N' Tell section on the site for customers to share images of their projects, they offer a fab 'Ask Anna' service for when you need a bit of extra guidance. I've always found choosing fabric online when you can't touch or test the drape of a sample to be a little tricky so I love the idea of there being a readily available human being there to advise on the suitably of your choice and best handling approach.

The good news for you guys is that Fabrics for Sale have kindly offered to give away one metre of fabric to one of you lovely lot! All you need to do to enter is follow my blog via email, Bloglovin' or Feedly if you don't already then hop on over to their site and let me know in the comments what you think you would choose if you were the lucky winner. Please make sure to leave your email address in the comments if it is not easily accessible on your profile. The giveaway is open to enter until midnight GMT on Sunday 12th July 2015.

Unfortunately the give-away is only open to UK based entrants but if you are based overseas it is possible to place international orders through the site and Fabrics for Sale are currently offering a 10% discount exclusively for my readers! The discount is applicable across the entire site and valid until 8th August 2015; just enter the code CHAINSTITCHER at the checkout.

Have fun browsing! I apologise in advance for the effect this may have on your bank accounts!