Tuesday, 30 June 2015

June Indie Pattern Update!


The arrival of some real proper heat and sunshine in London this week has got me really inspired to sew up a whole new summer wardrobe! I've been working with a lot of breezy cottons and silks this month and colourful summer prints have been catching my eye. Those of you in the southern hemisphere must be looking forward to changing up your sewing for winter too! There's plenty of new patterns to choose from this month if you're looking to add to your collection anyway!


New Pattern Companies


  • Charlotte from English Girl At Home has just released her very first pattern the Lou Lou Dress. It's a sleeveless a-line dress with three views including options for contrast panels and colour blocking. I love her sample of View B with the sheer polkadot hemline! 


New Patterns

  • Sew Over It released the latest in their line of classic designs; the Vintage Shirt Dress. I had the pleasure of testing this pattern and have been getting so much wear out of my cotton lawn version now summer has arrived in London! They also released the PDF version of the pattern from their tie kit.
  • Technically this happened back in May but it slipped through the net in last month's update so I thought I should include it here! Hey June Patterns released the Biscayne Blouse which has a relaxed fit and features a hidden button placket.
  • The new pattern from Tilly and the Buttons is the Agnes Top. It's a close fitting design for knits and features various neckline and sleeve options to mix and match. 
  • After the popularity of her Marlborough Bra pattern and lingerie sewing book I was very excited to spot that Norma from Orange Lingerie released a new bra pattern this month, the Boylston Bra. I did decide in January that sewing lingerie was one of the things I wanted to try this year so maybe I should give this a whirl...
  • Style Arc's new patterns this month included the Veronica Vest, Eddie Woven Pant, Ethel Designer Pants and Top, Ricki Top and the Marlo Knit Top which was this month's freebie with every purchase.
  • Aime Comme Marie released several new patterns this month! There are four shirt/shirtdress patterns (including one for men!), a jumpusit, a romper and a skirt. I think my favourite is the Metropolitan jumpsuit with the strappy bodice, I've got them on the brain at the minute! They've also updated their packaging, using different paper and a new format.
  • I love the design of both the new patterns from Pauline Alice. The Sorell Trousers are so Katherine Hepburn with their high waist, wide legs and masculine design details. I wish I had long enough legs to look elegant in them! The Xerea Dress is a shift which looks like it would be perfect for beginners or to showcase a spectacular fabric.
  • Jalie released some really cute sportswear related patterns. I'm really drawn to the style lines of the Anne-Marie tennis/cycling dress despite not playing tennis! 
  • There have been a couple of swimsuit pattern releases this month; it's so exciting to have such a variety of swimsuit styles to choose from now if you are considering sewing your own! The first was the Maison Fleur 8101 Halterneck Swimsuit which grabbed my attention straight away as I flicked through my blog roll. It has three variations and features side seam ties.
  • The second swimsuit release if from Seamstress Erin; the Nautilus Swimsuit. The twist detail on the front is lovely and I love that it comes with pattern pieces for a variety of cup sizes. You have the option of making a one piece or a bikini with different styles of bottoms and straps.
  • Compagine M released the Nina Skirt and Culottes pattern at the end of May. It's a simple a-line skirt pattern with the option to turn it into culottes.
  • Megan Nielsen treated us to a FREE pattern download! Named the Veronika Skirt it is a full circle skirt which can be made up in a knit or woven fabric and with or without beautiful scallop-edged pockets.
  • Maria Denmark released the Rachel Wrap Dress. It's a classic design to be sewn up in a soft jersey and is a flattering style for all body types.
  • The latest Closet Case Files pattern is the Sallie Jumpsuit and Maxi Dress. It's designed to be made from super comfortable knits and looks to be a fairly straightforward sew. Plus the muse behind this pattern is the super stylish Sallie Oh who never fails to inspire me! I'm definitely seeing a couple of versions of this in my summer wardrobe! 
  • By Hand London's new dress is a real simple stunner. Zeena features a relaxed fit bodice with kimono sleeves and pleated skirt. I tested for the girls again and have already made two in some amazing fabrics I've had stashed for a while which I can't wait to share with you later in the week!
  • Steph from Cake Patterns is back with the first half of her new Tidepool collection! This first release features the Pipi Shell, Janthina Shell and Endeavour Trousers and Shorts which feature a really cute sailor style front fastening option.
  • Sarah from Ohhh Lu Lu has just released a whole collection of new lingerie and loungewear patterns. Vintage inspired but with a modern twist I'm literally drooling over all of them! I think my favourites are the Emma Romper and and Josephine Bralette. I need to stock up on some silk...

Sew-alongs


Upcoming!


Other Exciting News

  • As well as releasing their Vintage Shirt Dress the new 'Sew Over It Vintage' book from Lisa Comfort was launched this month! The book instructs you how to use your own measurements to draft patterns for a whole range of projects which is an approach that really interests me.
  • Katie from Papercut Patterns has been busy working through her pattern catalogue and releasing some older patterns as downloadable PDFs. This month's additions to the PDF collection are the Bellatrix Blazer, Ensis Tee and Meissa Blouse.
  • A selection of Colette Patterns are now available with downloadable instructions in German, Spanish or Italian along with the French instructions that were already available. Check out their site to find out which.
  • Alongside her new Agnes Top Tilly has released an online workshop 'Learn to Sew Jersey Tops'. It's aimed at people who are new to sewing knits and want to use a regular machine. Spoiler alert...despite having a fair few knit projects under my belt now I'm currently trying it out and loving it!
  • It's been a busy month for Heather Lou from Closet Case Files as she relaunched her patterns with a number of changes including an expanded size range (now covering sizes 0-20), french translations, a regraded Bombshell Swimsuit and some slight tweaks to the Ginger Jeans.
  • Straight Stitch Designs launched their Stitch Kits which include all the supplies you need to sew up one of their patterns including beautiful fabrics from the Art Gallery Collection.
  • Kate & Rose Patterns had a sale to celebrate their paper patterns being back in stock. They all now have new re-branded instructions.
  • Waffle Patterns released a new free customise option for their Blouson Jacket pattern to make it into a hoodie. I love the idea of these 'add-on' packs that mean you can get a lot more out of patterns you already own and make an almost entirely different garment.
  • Thread Theory are currently having a 25% sale to celebrate moving into their new studio! Orders won't be shipped until they are settled back in on July 6th but it's the perfect opportunity to do some selfless sewing!
  • The Lakeside Pyjamas and Maritime Shorts from Grainline Studio are now available in print format. I've long been tempted by that shorts pattern...
  • Sarah from Ohhh Lulu has started a YouTube channel featuring video demos of various techniques. If you're tempted to take the plunge into sewing lingerie with her new patterns this could be really useful!

As always let me know in the comments or send me an email if you can think of anything I might have missed...it's impossible to keep track of everything that's going on nowadays! To finish up here's your monthly dose of indie sewing inspiration. Funnily enough many garments that have grabbed me this month have been made by indie designers from other designer's patterns...love that! Keep sharing yours with me on Instagram and Twitter with #indiesewing


  • Pauline has such a great sense of glamorous style and she looks so amazing in her maxi version of BHL's Flora Dress. Love those earrings too!
  • Sometimes you just can't beat a classic black dress and Heather Lou is looking the epitome of chic in her black linen Lonsdale. I must dig out my own black version immediately!
  • I adore Megan's midi length version of her Tania Culottes pattern. The fabric is an absolutely perfect choice for them and the style suits her so well.
  • Morgan from Thread Theory made the most gorgeous feminine Kim Dress as part of her Spring Wardrobe project. She used some of the By Hand London printed fabric and it holds the shape so well.
  • Inna's second version of the Jessica Dress from Style Arc suits her so well! I love the way the stripes of the fabric work with the twist front of the design.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Electric Blue Rayon Crepe Quart Jacket

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Quart Jacket in Rag & Bone Rayon/Cotton Crepe from Mood Fabrics

I was really intrigued when I spotted this Rag & Bone Navy/Blue Cotton-Rayon Crepe in the new arrivals section of the Mood Fabrics website! It sounded so unusual being of a medium to heavy weight yet fluid. I'd been after something unique to make myself a biker style jacket after seeing Pauline Alice's amazing short version of her Quart Coat so decided to take the plunge for this month's Mood Sewing Network project and order myself enough of this to investigate. When it arrived it was kind of what I was imagining and kind of not...whatever it was it was beautiful! It's fairly thick and spongy with something of a boucle texture to it at the same time as having a wonderfully soft drape. I love the slub effect of the vivid electric blue flecked through the navy.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Quart Jacket in Rag & Bone Rayon/Cotton Crepe from Mood Fabrics

I cut a size 36 and used just 1.5 yards of the crepe. Despite the fabric being reasonably thick I thought perhaps for this style of jacket it could do with a little more support and structure so I fused all my pattern pieces with a lightweight cotton interfacing. I'm really pleased with this choice as without adding much weight it helped prevent the pattern pieces from stretching out of shape as despite being dense and opaque the weave is fairly loose and prone to fraying. To combat the fraying I overlocked the edges of all the pattern pieces before assembly. In addition to the lightweight interfacing I used a medium weight as a back stay, following the guide on the pattern piece for the shape.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Quart Jacket in Rag & Bone Rayon/Cotton Crepe from Mood Fabrics

One of the great things about this fabric is that the reverse is the opposite colour way, with the electric blue the dominant colour flecked with navy. I really wanted to make use of this and considered using the contrasting side for small elements such as the pocket welts but in the end the fact that I wanted this to be a classic jacket which I could wear with anything won out and I decided to keep it simple. I'm still keeping my eye out for patterns suitable for colour blocking which I could us this for though!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Quart Jacket in Rag & Bone Rayon/Cotton Crepe from Mood Fabrics

I went all out and lined the jacket with silk charmeuse in 'midnight'. I wish I could afford to line everything in charmeuse from now on! It feels so luxurious when I'm wearing it over a sleeveless top. I had to get a little creative with the cutting as I only had one yard...I ended up piecing the under sleeve pattern piece as there just wasn't quite enough space! I cracked out my walking foot for the first time when sewing it up and it was so helpful when trying to keep those seam lines smooth and pucker free. I didn't have much trouble cutting it just using good old shears and pins as the pattern pieces are nice and small and I used a fine sharps needle in my machine to assemble these pieces.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Quart Jacket in Rag & Bone Rayon/Cotton Crepe from Mood Fabrics

I followed Pauline's instructions to adapt the pattern into a short zipped jacket rather than the full length buttoning coat. I drew my cutting line at 10cm below the waistline as recommended and moved the pockets up. I'm fairly short at 5ft 3" and I wouldn't want the jacket any shorter so if you are considering following this tutorial I'd think about leaving a little more length.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Quart Jacket in Rag & Bone Rayon/Cotton Crepe from Mood Fabrics

The pocket welts are an addition I drafted myself following Pauline's tutorial again. They are really simple to add in as the pocket openings are in the princess seams. I did make up the epaulettes and pin them onto the jacket but I decided not to use them in the end as I liked the look of a sleeker shoulder.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Quart Jacket in Rag & Bone Rayon/Cotton Crepe from Mood Fabrics

There were a few elements of the construction of this jacket that had me feeling a little hesitant as they were so new to me. Firstly there was dealing with sleeve heads and shoulder pads. Setting in sleeves is probably my least favourite sewing task at the best of times so thinking about trying to create a beautiful tailored shoulder for this jacket was slightly off putting! I'm going to talk about my process for doing this in more depth later in the week but for now I'll just say I'm totally delighted with the result I managed to achieve and this was largely down to how well this lovely fabric responded to being shaped with heat and steam.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Quart Jacket in Rag & Bone Rayon/Cotton Crepe from Mood Fabrics

Secondly there were the zips. I've had no experience sewing exposed zips so was a little apprehensive about how neatly I could get these to turn out. Thankfully the pattern instructions for the cuff zips are nice and detailed and break it down into simple little steps and I actually think the cuffs are the aspect of this jacket that I am most proud of! I love how the silver zips look against the blue of the fabric. The neat finish was definitely helped by the fact that stitches just sink right into this crepe and disappear. As well as the topstitching around the zips there's quite a bit of hand sewing involved in this project but it was so straightforward as the sponginess of this fabric means any catch-stitching is completely invisible from the right side.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Quart Jacket in Rag & Bone Rayon/Cotton Crepe from Mood Fabrics

The pattern is great and I'm definitely considering making it up as a full length coat this winter. If I do I think I'd go down a size at the waist as looking at the finished measurements there's quite a lot of ease in that area. It's sort of semi-tailored so I think good for a first foray into coat sewing; there's some challenging elements involved and you could certainly add things like bound buttonholes but there's no pad stitching or collar roll lines to deal with. I would recommend having a bit of sewing knowledge under your belt to tackle this one though. The instructions are good and the illustrations small yet clear but it would help to have experienced some of the techniques beforehand (for example how to sew in a sleeve head). I did find myself looking up some extra advice at certain points and making my own additions to the instructions such as under-stitching the lining at the pocket openings and stitching by hand in the ditch between the collar and jacket body to secure the two layers together. Not that this is a problem with the pattern at all; I never think it's the designer's responsibility to explain every single step in immense detail and if you're taking on a coat project it's fair to assume you have a bit of experience and will know the basics.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Quart Jacket in Rag & Bone Rayon/Cotton Crepe from Mood Fabrics

The fabric was so lovely to work with throughout. It's one of those fabrics that's so inspiring it kept me motivated all the way through what was a fairly tricky project. With time consuming projects like this I think it's always worthwhile picking a fabric that you really love so you're not going to get fed up of looking at it half way through and fall out of love with the whole idea! That being said I always enjoy a project like this where there are lots of fiddly little construction elements and pattern pieces to work with! I like seeing it all come together and taking it one little step at a time.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Quart Jacket in Rag & Bone Rayon/Cotton Crepe from Mood Fabrics

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

A Knit Scout Tee Duo

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Burnout Knit Grainline Scout Tee

So ok, this is basically a post about t-shirts so may not seem that exciting but bear with me here because I'm super happy with how these turned out and the fabrics themselves are lovely! I have (on a number of occasions!) previously documented my love for the Grainline Studio Scout Tee pattern. It's such a great simple, wearable wardrobe staple and I think my favourite pattern to use as a basis to play around with my ideas. Over time I've used it almost as a block to create different styles of loose fitting woven tops. My hammered silk version with a dipped hem got worn literally to death (I was so sorry to see that go!) and I keep meaning to make another with a chevron of diagonal pleats across the front after the success I had hacking the pattern for my pleated cotton voile version. I love the neckline, cap sleeves and the way it fits around the shoulders so when I spotted that a few of you had made it up in knit fabric rather than woven I had a bit of a moment of revelation...this may be my perfect pattern for a relaxed fit tee!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Striped Cotton Jersey Grainline Scout Tee

The fabric for both of these tops came from the crazy Cloth House moving sale a couple of months ago. I can't remember exactly how much they were to begin with but both were in the £10-15/m price bracket and were down to just £1/m! I had to show some serious restraint and only allow myself to buy fabrics which I could 100% imagine as a particular type of garment and that I could see myself wearing. The inky blue burnout jersey jumped straight out at me as it was so unique and the striped cotton jersey was a must buy after I touched it and discovered how beautifully soft it is! I needed less than a metre for each so as I already had the pattern these are a total bargain at £1 each!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Burnout Knit Grainline Scout Tee

I'd previously fiddled around so much with the Scout Tee pattern, changing the hemline e.t.c that rather than try and work out what changes my currently traced version of the pattern involved I decided to revert back to the original. I cut a straight size 4 as the size guide indicated despite briefly considering going down the 2 as I was using a stretch fabric. I'm pleased I did this as I like the relaxed fit and also the burnout jersey doesn't actually have a huge amount of give.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Striped Cotton Jersey Grainline Scout Tee

I like how these each turned out so differently because of the varied stretch and drape of the two jerseys. The blue burnout is closer fitting, the pink and white stripe is much more relaxed and slouchy; I think the colours and designs of the fabric suit the fit of each one! The pink and white stripe is also slightly heavier which means the hem hangs a little little longer when worn oddly enough. The stripes are so fine that I wasn't all that bothered about matching them. I simply made sure that the same coloured stripe was at the armhole and hem of the side seams on both front and back pattern pieces then lined everything up when I was pinning.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Striped Cotton Jersey Grainline Scout Tee

As has become usual practice for me with knits now I used a narrow zig zag stitch on my regular machine to assemble all the seams then overlocked them for a nice professional finish. I love how this looks on the inside of the pink striped version especially. I always have to remind myself as I go that Grainline patterns have a 1/2" seam allowance - that tripped me up on the Archer Shirt before!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Striped Cotton Jersey Grainline Scout Tee

I used a stretch needle in my regular machine for both, but for some reason it didn't like the burnout jersey as much and I had some issues with skipped stitches. I think it struggled moving so regularly between the two thicknesses of fabric where it was and wasn't 'burnt out'. The burnt out areas are super fine and basically sheer. I have to wear a little black cami under this one!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Burnout Knit Grainline Scout Tee

My stretch twin needle worked great on both tops to finish the hem, cuffs and neckband. I turned up a slim hem twice to give some weight and body but turned up the cuff hems just once as I didn't want those little sleeves to end up so short they looked odd. I just stitched with the twin needle close to the edge and left it raw as you don't have to worry about knits fraying like wovens.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Striped Cotton Jersey Grainline Scout Tee

Apart from altering the stitches I used and adding a little piece of twill tape to the shoulder seams to stop them stretching out, I pretty much sewed these up following the same instructions as for a woven version. The major difference was of course the neck band as I didn't need to use a bias tape facing as my fabrics had stretch. I cut the band on the cross grain (so the stretch was running through it) and looked at the width of bands on other tops I own before settling on cutting them at 1.75" wide including seam allowance. After a bit of blog research I decided to make the band 7/8 of the length of the neckline. It needs to be shorter than the neckline opening as stretching the band out slightly as you sew will help it sit flat against the body when worn. I attached it in the same way I've attached every other knit neckband I've sewn and really feel like I've got this technique nailed now!

I'm sure this is the way that everyone else does it but following these steps has given me the best results:

  • Sew together the two short ends of the band then fold it in half lengthways and press. 
  • Divide both the band and the neckline into four equal quarters and mark these with chalk or a washable pen.
  • Pin the band to the right side of the neckline, aligning raw edges and lining up these marks. By dividing both pieces into equal quarters the stretch of the band ends up more evenly distributed around the neck.
  • Sew the band to the neckline using a narrow zig zag stitch.
  • Press the band up towards the neck and the seam allowances towards the body of the top. 
  • Stitch with a twin needle or zig zag stitch around the neckline, close to the seam line to secure the seam allowances in place.

I have previously finished the seam allowances at the neckline on my overlocker but with both of these tops I just trimmed it right down as close as I could get to the twin needle stitching. This is much less bulky and looks a lot better with the sheer burnout jersey.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Burnout Knit Grainline Scout Tee

It is well worth trying this pattern in a knit fabric in my opinion and it's got me thinking outside the 'recommended fabric choice' box looking at my other patterns now too. I think the key to why I love these is in the close fit around the shoulders so I don't feel swamped by them as I sometimes do when I try on oversized ready to wear tops. I'm glad I turned my head away from some more exciting and intricate sewing projects for a while to whip these up as they are the perfect additions to my summer wardrobe; comfortable, washable and infinitely wearable.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Striped Linen Laurel Dress (and giveaway winner!)

Today I've got a garment to share with you that I'm actually not all that pleased with now it's done. It's been one of those projects that just doesn't quite turn out as you imagined it in your head. I had high hopes for this one too after the success of my Little Black Laurel Dress. I was convinced this gorgeous Theory Striped Linen from Mood Fabrics would be the perfect match for the pattern and I was excited about creating the perfect chic Parisian shift dress for throwing on on hot summer days! However, although I have had a lot of wear out of black version and was really pleased with it I've never quite nailed my perfect fit for this pattern. Despite the fabric being gorgeous and so easy to sew with it does have a crisper hand which seems to emphasise the fit issues. I think I'd have better success with a fabric with more drape or at least something softer.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Theory Striped Linen Laurel Dress from Colette Patterns

I cut the size 2 again and repeated the side seam alteration from my black version to slim it down a little. Luckily I had transferred the amount I removed from the side seams to my pattern pieces so this was easy! I can still just about get this on and off comfortably without a zip. I also lowered the bust point by 1/2" which seems to be a fairly common adjustment among the sewing community with patterns from Colette. I retained the pattern's original length, despite shortening it for my black version, as I wanted to feel comfortable wearing this one without tights.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Theory Striped Linen Laurel Dress from Colette Patterns

I'll admit this isn't a silhouette I wear a lot anyway but even after fiddling with the fit this still feels a little sack-like. The double ended darts in the back are lovely and I like the shape through the waist and hips from front on but it just doesn't sit right across the chest. I'd be tempted to go down a size and try a full bust adjustment if I made this again but to be honest I'm not sure I'm keen enough to make this again to put in the effort of making that adjustment and fiddling around with the sleeve heads (which I'll get onto in a minute!). Maybe I'd get better results if I used the pattern pieces for the blouse and lengthened them as I've been much happier with the tops I've made using this pattern. Colette patterns do seem to be the one's that I have the most trouble fitting and it's usually something to do with the armhole or bust. I must just have a very different body shape to what their blocks are drafted from.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Theory Striped Linen Laurel Dress from Colette Patterns

I've never really got on with the sleeves on the Laurel Dress and with this version I had real trouble setting them in as there is so much fullness in the sleeve head. When I had trouble with this on the blouse I thought it was because I had redrafted the armhole on the bodice piece slightly as it dipped inwards making the garment tight across the upper bust. However I noted last time that the armhole shape was different on the dress pattern pieces and I didn't need to do that. The fact that the same sleeve pattern piece is used for both versions might explain it not fitting particularly well into the armhole but I'm not sure. I unpicked and restitched my sleeves a number of times but in the end gave up and settled on this being the best I could do. It's definitely not my best sewing and the sleeve is hanging somewhat strangely with weird folds forming from the excess fabric. They're slightly gathered along the seam line too which is disappointing.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Theory Striped Linen Laurel Dress from Colette Patterns

One thing I am delighted with on this garment is my stripe matching! Despite risking cutting the pattern pieces on the fold instead of in a single layer (which I should really develop the patience for  when trying to match a print!) it turned out beautifully across both side seams and the centre back. I was careful to make sure everything looked like it line up when pinning but t didn't really require any extra effort at that stage.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Theory Striped Linen Laurel Dress from Colette Patterns

As with all my versions of the Laurel I used a facing I drafted off the main pattern pieces instead of finishing the neckline with bias binding. The under-stitched neckline sits MUCH better than on my previous versions because this lovely linen presses up so beautifully. I also simply turned the hem of the sleeves up twice and topstitched it instead of using bias tape as recommend in the pattern; partly because I like the length they then end up finishing at and partly through laziness!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Theory Striped Linen Laurel Dress from Colette Patterns

I finished all my seams on my overlocker using a mid grey thread. I treated myself to a new set of grey thread cones a little while ago as I felt like just having black and white wasn't covering all my bases. I'd heard a myth that a nice mid grey was great for blending in with pretty much any colour and print and after a couple of months of sewing with it I've found that to be nearly always true!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Theory Striped Linen Laurel Dress from Colette Patterns

It's a shame I'm not happy with the overall look and fit of this as I'm really pleased with my finishing! This might be getting sent straight to the charity shop... I have been sewing up a storm recently though and this appears to be the only real wadder I've made so stay tuned for some more successful stories!

And finally, selected from a whopping 95 entries by random number generator, the winner of the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress sewing pattern is Lara from Dreaming of Avonlea! Congratulations Lara, I really hope you enjoy sewing it up. I'll be sending you an email to get your postage details and then the ladies at Sew Over It will send out your prize!