Monday, 30 November 2015

November Indie Pattern Update!

It's the end of November already! I hope all you readers over in the states had a wonderful thanksgiving weekend. I was pretty stunned by how many sewing pattern companies got on board with the black Friday sales this year with some great store wide discounts. I picked up a couple of treats which I can't wait to arrive! Some of the deals are still running today (Cyber Monday) so if you haven't taken a look yet Rachel has written a great summary of what deals are where. To tempt you a little further, here's the news from the sewing community's indie designers this month...

New Pattern Companies!

  • Lisa from the Avid Seamstress has just launched her first collection of sewing patterns! There are three women patterns (The Day Dress, The Sheath Dress and The City Trousers) and two girls patterns for ages 3-8 (The Raglan Dress and The Gathered Dress). Plus they are all 20% off until the 6th December with the code LAUNCH20.
  • Anne Durrieu, who was a contestant on the French Sewing Bee, has released her first PDF sewing pattern alongside her gorgeous garment line. It's called the Leopoldine Dress and I love that's it's a bit more technically advanced than many other first pattern releases. I'm very tempted to give this a whirl but it's only available in French so I might have to think on it!

New Patterns


  • Heather Lou is currently running a sew-along for the new Clare Coat over on the Closet Case Files blog. I'm eagerly reading every post despite not sewing along as I'm just interested in the coat making tips!
  • Kennis from Itch to Stitch is running a sew-along for her newly released Liana Jeans which starts on Wednesday 2nd December. Details on all the supplies you need are up on her blog now.


  • The Birkin Flares from Baste & Gather which I mentioned last month are set for release on 8th December. Very much looking forward to seeing more of these; bang on trend for the seventies vibe that is everywhere in RTW at the minute.

Other Exciting News

  • Anna from Paunnet has written a book which came out this month! It's simply called 'The Sewing Handbook' and is currently only available in Italian.
  • Named Patterns released a free pattern download to enable you to add long sleeves to their Kielo Wrap Dress. I'd always looked at it as perfect summer attire but now I'm looking at it with fresh eyes and with different fabric ideas!
  • Closet Case Files paper patterns have arrived! Currently available in this format are the Carolyn Pyjamas, Ginger Jeans, Nettie Bodysuit and the new Clare Coat. I adore the illustrations, so beautifully done by fellow seamstress Sallie Oh.
  • Heather Lou has had an exciting month as she also also released an ebook this month called 'Sewing Your Own Jeans '. It's the perfect accompaniment to her Ginger Jeans pattern and perfect timing for me as they are next in my sewing queue.
  • Sew Over It launched their first online class, for the Grace Dress. Lisa guides you through all the steps yourself in a series of videos and as part of the package you get the pattern for a gorgeous versatile dress,
  • The Bronte Top from Jennifer Lauren Vintage is now available in paper from; it's her very first printed pattern!
  • Salme Patterns have released a paper version of their Kimono Sleeve Dress. It's the tenth addition to their paper pattern range.
  • The Deer & Doe Belladone Dress and Chardon Skirt patterns have been reworked and enhanced and are now available in the new style of packaging.  Full details of the changes made to the pattern are available here.
  • 'Freehand Fashion' was launched this month. Written by popular Great British Sewing Bee contestant Chinelo Bally it guides you through her unusual freehand pattern cutting technique. I snapped up a copy at the Knitting and Stitching Show where I was lucky enough to meet the author herself and I can't wait to try it.
  • Sally from Capital Chic Patterns had got 25% off her patterns until New Year's Eve with the code HAPPYHOLS15. It is the absolute perfect time of year to try one of her classy designs to wear throughout the party season!

As always let me know in the comments if there's anything you know of that I've missed (there's so much going on in the indie pattern world I'm sure there's a fair bit!). To finish up here's your monthly dose of indie sewing inspiration to get you fired up for some December sewing. I know I've got a lot of festive projects planned, how about you?

  • As the namesake of the new Closet Case Files Clare Coat, Clare of course sewed up pretty much the ultimate version of it straight off the bat! So cool.
  • Nina's pink and sparkly Georgia Dress is a stunner and so perfect for her birthday celebrations! I must give that Georgia pattern another go!
  • Bianca from Fabricate picked an amazing Japanese floral print for her version of the True Bias Roscoe Blouse. I just love it.
  • The lines of the Cotton & Steel print Helen picked for her Named Inari Dress work so well with the clean and contemporary shape of that pattern. Great combo of fabric and garment!
  • Zoe's Sailboat Raincoat (which she use the Papercut Patterns Waver Jacket pattern for) is so fun! She made some great choices with not only the pattern and fabric but the buttons and zips too!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Black Friday Pattern Picks!

I am loving that sewing pattern companies have got on board with Black Friday this year and are having big store wide sales this weekend! I thought I'd share with you some of the patterns and offers that have caught my eye, it started out as a short post but I keep spotting more and more deals!

Papercut Patterns - 30% off all orders with the code FLASH (until Saturday 28th)

I've had my eye on the popular Rigel Bomber for a while now and have been dabbling in sewing my own active-wear recently so the Pneuma Tank has grabbed my attention too. With free postage worldwide the only tough choice I've got now is whether to treat myself to their beautifully packaged patterns or go for the speed of a PDF!

Deer & Doe - 20% off all patterns online now (Friday 27th only)

The Fumeterre Skirt stole my heart as soon as the pattern was released a few months back...the wet & windy London weather of late and some serious lack of sewing time has prevented me from taking the plunge so far but this offer might be just enough to get me to try it out.

Sewaholic Patterns - 40% off paper patterns with the code BF2015 (until Monday 30th)

I've been tempted to treat myself to the knit Davie Dress on a couple of occasions as it looks so wearable and chic at the same time. The Cypress Cape is something I don't really need as I don't ride a bicycle but I absolutely love the unique design of it and the discount has got me thinking that maybe it would be useful in the decidedly wet UK winter season!

Megan Nielsen - 30% off all women's and maternity patterns with the code BLACKFRIDAY (all weekend)

I'm already a big fan of her Tania Culottes for summer wear and although it's totally the wrong weather for it over here I've got my eye on the Cascade Skirt next; it's exactly the kind of thing I like to wear in warmer weather. Breezy, feminine and a great way to showcase a spectacular fabric!

Grainline Studio - 20% off with the code GIVETHANKS15 (until Monday 30th)

I already have A LOT of Jen's patterns, I'm a big fan of her drafting but I've been trying to think up a good reason for me to make up the Cascade Duffel Coat since it's release. I've also been wearing my plaid flannel Alder Shirtdress to death recently so I recommend that one!

Victory Patterns - 30% off all patterns with the code TAKE30 (until Sunday 29th)

I've actually yet to try a Victory Pattern but I really love how unique the designs are and how much thought is put into the details. I might be tempted to give the Ava a try with that gorgeous sheer yoke. Plus there's 50% off Kristiann's new book 'Boundless Style'!

Colette Patterns - 20% off all patterns and up to 70% off some! Discount applied at checkout (until Sunday 29th)

There are some great deals to be found over on the Colette site this weekend. I've had the Aster Blouse earmarked for some gorgeous ikat I picked up in San Francisco and am very tempted by their most recent release, the Wren Dress too.

Sew Over It - 30% off all kits and patterns (Friday 27th only)

Their Ultimate Pencil Skirt is one of my favourite patterns of all time, I have three versions which get worn to death! I think the Anderson Blouse is next on my list to try.

Maison Fleur Patterns - 20% off all patterns with the code 20THANKS (until Monday 30th)

I haven't tried a Maison Fleur pattern yet but what better reason is there than when there's a discount! I'm most drawn to the style of her 8101 Halterneck Swimsuit.

Closet Case Files - 20% off all patterns and the Sewing You Own Jeans ebook using the code THANKSGIVER (until Monday 30th)

I've already got a pair of Ginger Jeans cut out, and a desperate for enough time to get stuck into sewing them but the chilly London nights of late have got me thinking about a snuggly pair of Carolyn Pyjamas.

Thread Theory - 50% off all PDF patterns, no code required (until Monday 30th)

It's hard to choose between the classic menswear offerings over at Thread Theory but I think I'd most like to try sewing the Goldstream Peacoat and Jedediah Pants, I like a challenge and some topstitching!

True Bias - 30% off all patterns using the code THANKS30 (until Monday 30th)

I have been eyeing up the Roscoe Dress/Blouse since it's release (I am loving the 70s vibe this season) so I'm probably going to be all over that one. I definitely want to make up a maxi Southport Dress next summer too, I've seen so many gorgeous versions!

Jennifer Lauren Vintage - 15% off all patterns with the code THANKS (Friday 27th only)

If a wedding or other such event crops up for me to attend I'd love to make a Dalloway Dress, I adore that tiered skirt! I'm very tempted by the Cressida Skirt too, especially the 'double-breasted' version.

By Hand London - 20% off all patterns with the code BF20 (until Saturday 28th)

So I've pretty much made every BHL pattern there is to make but it's the perfect time of year for it with all their gorgeous dress designs ideal for Christmas parties! I'd pick the Kim Dress for a party and the Zeena Dress for everyday wear (in fact I'm wearing one right now!)

Muse Patterns - 20% off all patterns with the code THANKS15 (until Sunday 29th)

Another company I'm yet to try, I'm tempted to take the plunge with Kat's Gillian Wrap Dress. I love the yoke and the idea of making it a feature in a contrasting colour.

Simplicity/New Look/Burda - 50% off all patterns and free UK delivery (for one week)

There's just too much to choose from here...I could go a little wild but my box of patterns is already overflowing with things that I don't have time to sew! I've still had a good look though; my faves at the moment are Simplicity 1425Simplicity 1254 and Burda 6772 (at £1.46 you can't go wrong can you?!)

I know that Burdastyle had a huge 40% discount off their entire site yesterday and there are more deals around than I've listed here. Rachel has got a great list of sewing discounts on her blog today. Have you taken advantage of any other brilliant offers? What patterns have you got your eye on?

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Gingham Silk Double Layer Camisole

I have been flying through the small mountain of fabrics I brought home with me from America! I'm really pleased that it's all getting used so quickly as it means I made some good choices and mostly stuck to my plan of only buying things when I knew what I would make with them. However, my latest garment actually uses one of my impulse buys. From the masses of silk prints they have at Mood Fabrics LA (seriously there are so many it's kind of overwhelming!) this blue and white gingham silk crepe managed to jump out at me as an obvious purchase. I love how the delicate colours, delicate fabric and delicate watercolour style of the print compliment each other and was particularly taken with how the blue lines fade in and out across the fabric, giving it a kind of hand painted look. It was one of the first bolts I pulled out in the store and a yard of it left with me despite only having a vague plan to make some sort of flowing top.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Salme Double Layer Cami in Gingham Silk Crepe from Mood Fabrics

When I got home I had a root through my pattern stash for something suitable. I was tempted to make yet another silk Emmeline Tee or Sutton Blouse but my wardrobe is already kind of overflowing with these styles (see here, here AND here) so I decided it was time for something different. I thought my stash hunt had come up short but then remembered to have a look through the unprinted PDF patterns I have saved on my computer and I came across the Double Layer Camisole from Salme Patterns which Elisa ever so kindly sent me as a thank you freebie last year. I can't believe it's taken me this long to sew it up as it's a style I'd be drawn to in RTW and I was really excited about sewing it. I think lack of a suitable fabric last summer meant it got put on the back burner and then pretty much forgotten about saved on my computer once the colder weather kicked in.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Salme Double Layer Cami in Gingham Silk Crepe from Mood Fabrics

The pattern is super quick to sew even in silk and I love that the neckline doesn't require any fiddly binding or facing, the second layer of the cami gives you the clean edge (which is under stitched to keep the inside layer from rolling out). There are bust darts to sew in the two front pieces, then you sew the side seams, followed by the neckline (attaching the straps as you go) and then hem! If sewn in a straightforward fabric I'd definitely agree with it's 'beginner' skill rating.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Salme Double Layer Cami in Gingham Silk Crepe from Mood Fabrics

The fiddliest part was definitely those skinny straps. A loop turner was absolutely essential for getting these babies turned out to the right side and even then it was a struggle. Make sure you trim the seam allowances down as small as you dare to go. The delicate result is definitely worth the effort though. I often find patterns come up a little long for me in the upper chest/shoulder area so I made sure to pin my straps in place and check the length before sewing. I didn't want to have to unpick that entire neckline! It was worth the extra time as I did take a couple of inches off and getting the placement of the straps spot on was a little tricky as they need to meet the neckline right at the tip of the neckline curve.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Salme Double Layer Cami in Gingham Silk Crepe from Mood Fabrics

For such a simple style I actually had to draw on knowledge of a few techniques to get the best out of the silk. As well as under-stitching the neckline, I used french seams to finish the side seams and am really pleased with how narrow and delicate I got them this time. I feel like I've really nailed that technique now! I used the rolled hem foot on my machine to hem both layers, which worked out pretty well even over those french seamed side seams. The silk was pretty stable so simply I finished the raw edge of the neckline seam (which is concealed between the two layers) with pinking shears. I thought the zigzag of the pinking would have a softer edge than any other finish too which would help prevent it showing through on the right side as the silk is so fine.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Salme Double Layer Cami in Gingham Silk Crepe from Mood Fabrics

The crepe texture of the silk and matte finish meant it had some grip when laid against itself which made it so much easier to handle than a satin. I cut the pattern pieces out on a rug which I always prefer to a smooth surface like a table top when working with a slippery fabric. I used lots of pins but made sure to keep them within the seam allowances as pin holes left a mark but I used a washable pen to mark my darts which didn't leave any kind of stain. I did need to use a fine sharps needle, silk crepe can be a real problem with skipped stitches! A lightweight and drapey fabric is definitely a good choice for this project, you definitely don't want anything too thick as you'll be wearing two layers of it and you want that tiered hem to have some nice movement to it.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Salme Double Layer Cami in Gingham Silk Crepe from Mood Fabrics

I am pleased with my execution of this garment but I am wondering if it has perhaps turned out to be one of those which I like the idea of more than the reality. I do like the style but think I need to fiddle around with the pattern a bit to make it look how I want on my body shape. I cut the size 6 and I think made a bit of an error in assuming that such a simple style wouldn't need much in the way of adjustments and sewed up the pattern exactly as it is. It's not bad but I think the neckline is just a touch too wide for me and if I took a bit out of the centre it would sit flatter to the body in that area. I also think it looks a little tubular on me and could do with a bit more shaping through the waist, plus looking at it in pictures I'm wondering if it would be more flattering in a shorter length. These are all simple things to change next time though and I'm more than happy to wear this version as it is.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Salme Double Layer Cami in Gingham Silk Crepe from Mood Fabrics

Despite these reservations the beautiful fabric has meant this top has become a wardrobe staple. I was wondering if it was a little silly of me to make this up just as the warmer weather has vanished but I this style and print is totally working layered under chunky, fluffy, snuggly cardigans and jumpers!

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Geometric Moss Mini Skirt

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Geometric Grainline Moss Mini Skirt in Stretch Cotton from Mood Fabrics

Today I've got a project to share with you which didn't turn out to be the roaring success that I hoped. It was one of those projects that you are so excited to sew and can't wait to wear but just doesn't quite live up to expectations for one reason or another. I made this towards the start of the summer and envisioned myself wearing it all summer long with simple t-shirts and sandals but in fact it's had hardly any wear at all. Now a couple of months have passed and I've dug it out of my wardrobe to take some pictures fresh eyes have seen that there's actually a lot of good in it though.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Geometric Grainline Moss Mini Skirt in Stretch Cotton from Mood Fabrics

I've had the Grainline Moss Mini Skirt pattern for a while now as I love every version I've seen made up and I'm a big fan of Jen's drafting, instructions and wearable styles. I love my Archer Shirt and Alder Shirtdress. I've always thought that as well as being a practical garment it would also be a great way to showcase a fun fabric. I'm always drawn to bold prints when fabric shopping but have to remind myself that I'm unlikely to wear them as a full dress. The size of the Moss Mini is a great way to add a splash of something bold and be able to tone it down with a simple t-shirt. The print I ended up using is actual fairly discrete though as you can see! It took a while though for a print I liked to come along on the right weight of fabric for this style of garment. This geometric printed stretch cotton from Mood Fabrics instantly caught my eye on the new arrivals page of the site. I loved the modern print and the monochrome simplicity of it. I could see it slotting into my existing wardrobe really well.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Geometric Grainline Moss Mini Skirt in Stretch Cotton from Mood Fabrics

My main problem with this project stemmed from the fabric. It's beautiful, with a subtle satin finish similar to other cotton sateens I've used before and is the perfect weight and thickness for this kind of garment. However it's stretch content is fairly high and the recovery pretty poor. I was hopeful that the stretch in it would make the skirt even more practical and comfortable to wear when dashing around London for work but it loses it's shape really quickly. Using the pockets makes that worse. I also had problems with it stretching out during the sewing process. As you can see from the side on photo the hem has lost it's shape and now kind of flares out. The snug shape of the Moss is one of the things that I really like about it so that's a real shame. I probably should have thought about it before sewing and tried to combat the stretching by stabilising that edge or perhaps using a walking foot but I've never encountered the problem to this extent before. I've tried giving it a good steam but it doesn't want to bounce back. In general I just feel like the fabric has a bit too much give in it for this design too, I think I'd like it more in a stiffer and more stable cotton twill or drill.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Geometric Grainline Moss Mini Skirt in Stretch Cotton from Mood Fabrics

Anyway on to the good. The pattern itself is an absolute winner. The details don't show up fantastically in this print but it's got classic slanted front pockets, fly and back yoke. I love how professional and RTW looking the insides end up looking if you follow Jen's method of construction. I overlocked all the seam allowances inside in black as I like the contrast against the plain white wrong side and also because it tied in well with the black thread I was using for construction. Because of the percentage of elastane in the fabric I had to fiddle around a bit with what needle to use. I was getting a few skipped stitches at first but just putting in a fresh needle and going down a couple of sizes did the trick. I wanted to include topstitching along all the seams as I felt that suited the style of the design. I considered going for white as I thought it would tie in well with the print but as it was my first fly front I chickened out and went with black as I thought that would help hide any mistakes!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Geometric Grainline Moss Mini Skirt in Stretch Cotton from Mood Fabrics

I was very nervous about constructing my first fly. I found the process very confusing and didn't particularly enjoy it but I am really, really pleased with how it turned out. It definitely tested my patience but I'm glad I made myself take each step slowly as I know the result wouldn't have been as good if I had just pushed on through. I've got a pair of Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans cut out and have heard good things about the fly instructions for those so hopefully that will help me get my head around how a fly works rather than just blindly following the steps and I can perfect my technique. My attempt at a bar tack was pretty much a disaster because of the stretch in the fabric. It just pulled everything out of shape so I ripped it back out and gave the the fly a good steam to get it to lay flat again.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Geometric Grainline Moss Mini Skirt in Stretch Cotton from Mood Fabrics

I cut the size 4 as I usually do with Grainline patterns and I'm pretty happy with the fit. As you can see it sits more on the hip than the waist and I like this for this style of skirt. I needed just 80cm of my 120cm wide fabric and used up some scraps of black lawn for my pocket linings. A great project if you're trying to use up a bit of your stash! I'd seen a lot of reviews about it coming up very short and design wise I didn't want to make the version with the added band on the hem so I added 2" at the lengthen/shorten here line, despite being fairly petite. My job is pretty hands on and I wanted to be able to wear this bare legged to work and not feel conscious about flashing my bum every time I needed to pick something up or pin a hem in a fitting. Once I'd sewn it up I actually ended up taking 1" back off though and used 1" for the hem.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Geometric Grainline Moss Mini Skirt in Stretch Cotton from Mood Fabrics

I'm definitely going to give this pattern another whirl in a fabric without stretch. I've got my eyes peeled for a bolder print this time...maybe something along the lines of Lindsay's floral print as I absolutely love her version. I also think a denim version would be a wardrobe staple that I'd wear for years to come. What do you do with a project that turns out differently to how you expected? Do you ever find that a disappointing finished garment actual grows on you if revisited a couple of months after making it?

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Geometric Grainline Moss Mini Skirt in Stretch Cotton from Mood Fabrics