Today I want to tell you about one of my favourite tried and tested patterns. There are very few patterns I’ve made again and again but the Florence Boxy Tee from SizeMe Sewing is one of them. I love the flattering cut, the comfortable fit and versatility of this wardrobe staple pattern. It’s a super simple construction and from cutting out to wearable garment it took me 45 minutes. I made myself another one over Christmas from the off cuts from my sister’s present and I decided I would document the process for you all to show you just how quick and easy it is. Also its worth mentioning at this point that this blogpost is not affiliated or sponsored by SizeMe Sewing, I just wanted to share a favourite pattern of mine.
1m / 1.5m Lightweight Jersey – I used Rust Viscose Jersey from The Rag Shop
Florence Boxy Tee Pattern – SizeMe Sewing
Sellotape, Scissors & Printer to assemble PDF
Step 1: Neckline
Fold the neckline and stitch down front and back. I did this but turning down the neckline where it joins the shoulder and then i did the centre fold and worked my way along each side. It’s important not to stretch your neckline at this point so take it slowly and use lots of pins. Also remember this stitching will be visible so stitch the fold down from the Right Side and lengthen the stitch.
Step 2: Attach Shoulder Seams
Nice and simple step here, the only trick is to make sure you match the neckline correctly and I used a lightening stitch to make sure the seam was nice and secure. A zigzag stitch often puckers on this fabric so I found a lightening stitch to be a lot more effective.
Step 3: Hem Sleeves
Step 4: Attach Sleeves
Carefully matching the edge of the sleeve with the edge of the bodice, pin and stitch. Nice and simple but I used a lot of pins given how light the fabric is and I really had to take my time as the fabric slipped about loads!
Step 5: Close Side Seams
Again, a very simple step, I would recommend pinning at the under arm join to ensure a smooth side seam and even sleeve and base hems. Use your zigzag or lightening stitch for this step as this seam gets a lot of wear and tear so needs to be reinforced. As this jersey is so lightweight, I double stitched my side seams, doing a second row of stitching 1cm away from the first to make sure they won’t split.
Step 6: Hem
Nothing much to say about this step except that you need to press your hem before and after you do it to make sure you get a nice crisp finish (unlike me who forgot to press this at the time however it has been ironed now I promise!).
And you’re done! It really is that simple, this make has never taken me more than an hour and is now a wardrobe staple for me.
I stumbled across the #feelingsewmuchbetter challenge on instagram after a few people I follow posted for the first day. Its run by Sister Mintaka, a fabric shop and haberdashery, and the premise is to pick a project and sew a bit everyday and hopefully finish by the end of the week and a winner is picked randomly each day to receive Sister Mintaka vouchers. I thought I would join in as I often sew for a whole day straight and I very rarely take more than 2/3 days of continuous sewing to finish a project. As a very busy person I decided it would probably do me a lot of good mentally and physically to force myself to just do a little bit each day. Its not about finishing, its about doing every step slowly and consciously and enjoying the process. I thought I would blog about it for this exact reason because its a new experience, something to document, discuss and share. I will do a micro-blog each day and then I’ll review at the end of the week. Without further ado lets get going!
After only finding out about the challenge at lunch time, I spent the rest of today thinking about what project, fi any, I would like to attempt to join in. I say ‘if any’ because I didn’t want to just sew for the sake of it if it wasn’t something I had planned on making but I went through my stash extension – which is the part of my stash that has escaped the main box and so needs to be sewed more urgently – and decided that it was finally time to have a go at my Tilly and the Buttons Nora jumper. I’ve been meaning to make one for ages and this pattern does feature on my make nine grid for 2021. For fabric I chose a fun scuba/textured midnight blue jersey remnant which I’ve had in my stash for a while. Looking forward to sewing this project this week!
Disaster struck almost immediately tonight as I laid out my pattern pieces on my fabric and immediately found I didn’t have enough fabric. I always forget that Tilly and the Buttons patterns do actually use the amount of fabric they say they will on the pattern envelope! So it was back to the drawing board and I came up with the two fabrics you can see on my instagram story below. I asked you all to help me choose which fabric I should use and it came back as a straight 50/50 which was unhelpful. At that point I mentally decided that I am definitely going to make both of these into a Nora as I think they would both be cute for different reasons but honestly it came down to the fact that I am absolutely freezing so I chose the extremely cosy Salmon/Coral-Coloured Knit from Lamazi Fabrics and I will make the Polka Dot Nora in the summer as the fabric is very light. I then got on to cutting the fabric and stupidly I decided to use my mid-range scissors instead of my super fancy new ones and I wish I hadn’t! This fabric was a pain to cut and foresee some frustrating and slippery sewing so the jumper better be super snuggly. One thing I would mention is that once again the Tilly and the Buttons patterns have got my back up as I think the sizing is way off. I came up as a 12 in the pattern due to my bust which I wouldn’t mind if the waist was right but its not, I wear a 36″ bust but a 26/27″ waist which normally puts me between two sizes which I have to grade. However for Tilly and the Buttons I am two sizes apart and trust me its really hard to grade between an 8 and a 12 especially when we think about shoulders and back pieces. I don’t know what it is about the bodice block because the waist to hip ratio is pretty standard. I come up as an 8/10(by an inch) which is absolutely fine but I wonder if there is a reason the bodice block is so square? In this case I’m making a 12 because its for loungewear so I don’t care about a close fit but its really frustrating!
Today I was exhausted but I wanted to do something relating to my project so I decided to do something I almost never do – I actually read the instructions…in detail. I’m not sure if I’m the only one who does this so I might sound a bit weird but I often don’t read instructions, I will give them and the picture a glance for a bout 5 seconds and get one with it. The instructions I read are for techniques I’ve never done before, the first step of a pattern and of course I will depth read if I’m pattern testing for someone else. However on a normal day-to-day sewing basis I normally find that I know how garments are constructed and after about two steps I just get on with it. To me it feels like doing ‘nets’ in maths where you have a flat-lay of an object and you can see how it goes together so the instructions are kind of secondary unless its a complex garment – does that make sense? let me know in the comments below if its just me who’s weird like this. Anyway, I sat and I read as much as possible particularly as I’m determined to really make this jumper step by step. I know some people have chosen really tough projects this week but I have chosen something extremely simple that I would normally do in a couple of hours to make sure I actually take my time and sew slowly and consciously. Now I’m off to bed but I feel better armed to tackle this project step by step!
I actually started sewing today and I made myself just do the first two steps. I stabilised the shoulders with some ribbon I had in my stash, it doesn’t match but its on the inside so who cares. Also I almost never use ribbon so I have no idea why I have so much? The pattern instructions suggested using a satin ribbon but I went for a quite stiff textured ribbon as my fabric is so fine and slippery so I thought it would work better, which it has. I then attached the shoulder seams and stopped there. Although I’ve been thinking about this project all week I feel strange stopping after these two steps as I know I could sew more right now but I am making myself stop and do something else. I’m trying to celebrate the steps, the little wins that make up a project. This fabric also has the potential to be immensely frustrating as its so fine that pins just fall out of it soo maybe its better for me mentally to take this make day at a time.
I’m starting to get into this slow sewing malarky! When reviewing my progress tonight and posting to instagram I got some lovely comments praising me for my stripe matching on my neckband which is hilarious because its entirely accidental. I swear whenever I don’t think about it I match patterns really well and whenever I try it doesn’t work. Regardless, the neckband is on and I’m pretty proud of it. Its nice and wide so I’m hoping I will be able to pull it on without having to take my glasses off. The dream.
Today I nearly fell into the trap of keeping going and finishing my jumper today I’ve got the sleeves on which I’m happy with, they are even and neat and I’m so happy that due to the marl of the wool my white zigzag stitching is completely invisible as I had to fix one bit where I had accidentally caught the sleeve. I was just going to move on and do the side seams but I had to stop as I was getting so frustrated by the pins falling out of the fabric. Also I’m feeling really under the weather today (not Covid don’t worry) but I feel hot and cold and I keep shaking so I’m going to give it a rest now and have a very early night.
It’s the final day of the challenge and all I have to do is finish up the side seams, hem sleeves and close the stepped edges. I have been sat editing this blog this morning and listening to the Un:Cut Podcast which has been really relaxing and as I was sat thinking I realised the solution to my pin problem – I have fabric clips now! I’m not used to them yet as I only got them over Christmas but they worked like an absolute dream on my Nora. The only issue I had is that the sleeves were SIX INCHES, yes you read that right, six inches too long so I had to chop half the sleeve off to make it fit! Head over to my instagram to see how bad the situation was!
Here is my finished Nora! I love parts of it. I like the neckline, the fabric is so cosy and soft and I like the stepped hem. On the downside it is like a literal tent on me and honestly I don’t think I could wear it outside the house unless its tucked into something. The sizing is way off and after a rant on instagram this morning and many conversations with you all it seems the consensus is that Tilly and the Buttons sizing is not made for anyone with a significantly larger bust than waist. I chose a size based on my bust measurements but the rest of the garment is so enormous and its not even fitted on the bust so I think next time I will make a size smaller. Also having to cut 6 inches off the sleeve surely shows that something is wrong with this pattern? Although I love Tilly’s patterns I will be approaching them with caution in future and plenty of measuring, toile making and further attention to the finished garment measurements as well as the pattern sizing!
As for the Sister Mintaka #FeelingSewMuchBetter challenge I’ve loved it. I’ve loved giving myself permission to take things slowly, I’ve loved taking time over my makes and its been nice to do 5 minutes everyday. I’ve really enjoyed the consistency! Also its been wonderful to be part of a big community effort and see what everyone else has been making this week. Now I’m off to have a cosy night in my enormous Nora before the work week starts again!
I’ve been a little bit absent on here recently due to my degree workload however if you head over to my youtube you can see what I’ve been up to for the last few weeks! In November, I finally, FINALLY, finished my Tilly And The Buttons Eden Coat. This project is by far the most complex make I’ve ever attempted and I am so proud that not only is the garment wearable but that it looks vaguely professional and its waterproof! I decided over the summer that I wanted to attempt this pattern as a present for my eldest sister so of course I had to try one for myself. I was nervous when I bought the fabric but it was also really exciting, it felt like such a big step forward in my sewing life. As I’ve always wanted a proper barbour jacket, I decided to make my coat in that style using black waxed cotton, a white floral cotton lining and brass zips and snaps. I tell you I was the most nervous I’ve ever been when I cut into the waxed cotton for the first time but it was worth it for the coat I’m now living in every time I go outside.
The pattern is labelled as ‘for improvers’ and is produced digitally as a PDF. While the pattern itself isn’t particularly complicated, there are a huge number of individual pattern pieces. The pattern and fabric cutting took a couple of hours and was mentally exhausting but after the cutting stage it wasn’t too bad. The instructions could be a lot clearer and I would like it if they were numbered and the pattern pieces were in bold when mentioned in the pattern to avoid some of the more confusing elements of the making process. Otherwise its a time consuming but not a particularly difficult sew and I had to work on it in the mornings only because the lighting in our house isn’t great and trying to sew black thread on black fabric in the evening sure does hurt your eyes! In this blog I’ve picked out a few elements that I liked, disliked and of which I feel other sewists should be aware. If you want to follow the whole making process check out my two part sew-a-long vlog linked below for more information.
Inserting my first jacket zip
Honestly I was most nervous about this step because I’d never done a jacket zip before, I’d never even sewn a zip using my new machine and new foot. So, true to form, I dived in head first and it went really well! I split the zip, placed the tape on each side and marked the top and bottom with chalk, made sure they were at the same height and went for it. I was surprised and delighted to find that jacket zips are actually quite simple and I am no longer scared of them – so thats a result!
Working with Waxed Cotton
Croft Mill have a wonderful selection of lightweight waxed cottons perfect for a ‘Barbour’ style waxed jacket. After great trepidation I was somewhat surprised to find I absolutely love sewing with waxed cotton. It’s a joy to work with, it stays where it’s put, you don’t need pins and it flows through the machine like a dream. My only advice would be to use a denim needle and if you want a 100% waterproof coat consider how you are going to seal your seams against the weather.
My First Snaps
At this point having made two Eden coats with two different snap applying methods I have a mixed opinion about snaps. My black Eden coat was my first attempt at applying snaps and it was incredibly frustrating. I used the Prym antique brass coloured snaps and the equipment that came with them to apply them and it was absolutely maddening. There is a small plastic tweezer type contraption that you fit a series of heads to and you use a hammer too apply the snaps. However using a hammer and the instructions, it took Adam and I over an hour to apply them all and it was not error free I can tell you! After this frustrating experience I bought the Prym Snap Pliers from The Makers Merchant to use on my sisters coat and they made a massive difference. I cannot recommend them enough the whole process took 15 minutes and I didn’t swear once!
Overall this coat has made me smile and its made me scream with frustration but I am proud of the result. Its surreal to look at it hung up next to my other coats for all the world as though I bought it somewhere. It’s a coat of firsts. My first snaps, my first jacket zip, my first lined garment, my first hood, my first patch pockets, my first piece of outerwear in fact! So of course there are little bits and pieces I would like to improve but its a win, a milestone and I am almost giddy with pride whenever I wear it. If you want to learn more about my making journey and process then have a watch of the vlogs below!
Hey everyone! Apologies for the prolonged absence I’ve just finished a massive project which I was vlogging so I’ve neglected the blog a little(more on that soon!) but today I wanted to check in with you all to tell you about my new favourite beginner pattern! That’s right, you guessed it, it’s the Tilly and The Buttons Lotta Dress. An over the head dress with an elastic area waist, optional grown-on sleeves and patch pockets. One of the wonderful things about this pattern is that it can be made in either woven or knots fabrics which is amazing!!
It’s a good, easy sew and great fun for beginners or more experienced sewists alike. I finished mine today and I’m already in love! I used a viscose marrocain from Rainbow Fabric Kilburn and followed the woven instructions. In this blog post I’m going to talk about the good points of the pattern and give you a few of my notes to consider when making the pattern for the first time.
The beauty of the Lotta is the simplicity of construction, all the pieces are cut on the fold so you literally have a skirt and top each with two pieces and a neck facing/band – that’s it! It goes together as you would expect and as the sleeves are grown on even they are very low maintenance. For an experienced sewist it make the garment a very speedy make and it’s also not too intimidating for complete beginners.
Minimum Technical Sewing Required
This is the joy of the Lotta, it’s almost like a palette cleanser project, quick, simple, minimal brain work required! The simplicity of the garment construction is enhanced by the sheer lack of technical sewing. There are no zips, no fastenings, no darts, the only shaping is the elasticated waist which is the simplest of casings as it just uses the seam allowance from the top. It was a refreshingly relaxing sew coming after finishing my very technical Eden Coat.
Points To Be Aware Of:
Very Fabric Hungry
It surprised me how much fabric was required. I only just got my Size 10 Lotta out of 2 metres of fabric and that was with some extremely creative pattern laying. The pattern says you need 2/2.5 but as the fabric amounts aren’t listed for each size I assumed that I would need less. I pretty much always under-buy anyway because apart from my Eden Coat I’ve literally never used the whole amount fabric “required” for a project. The reason it needs so much fabric is because every single pattern piece needs to be cut on the fold, the larger sizes will also not fit on 45” wide fabric which is worth being aware of before you buy your fabric!
Hem Sleeves Before Closing Sides
Because these sleeves are grown on, you assemble them by first attaching the front and back bodice at the shoulders and then opening them flat, attaching the sleeve heads and finally sewing them up with one long side seam from the wrist to the waist. However what this means is that it is surprisingly hard to hem the sleeves once they are closed. This is not mentioned in the instructions and so by the time you realise it’s too late! So my advice is to ignore the instructions and hem your sleeve arms first and then sew up the side seam. You’re welcome!
Be Aware Of Hem Lengths
This is just a note for your own planning, I made the mini-skirt version which is supposed to sit above the knee however I am 5’2” and I had to remove 4 inches to get the skirt to just above my knee so please be aware that the skirt is fairly long.
The Lotta is a wonderful entry level pattern and I hope it brings lots of new people into the dressmaking community. It’s also a nice quick sew and a perfect dress for all occasions, its so nice to find a pattern that I can wear to work and socially. I am actually planning to make another one almost immediately out of a structured Navy Ponte Di Roma for a cosy winter work dress. To conclude, if you could only buy one pattern to make your first garment I would definitely recommend the Lotta! Got any tips, tricks or comments on the Lotta? Let me know in the comments below!
Hello lovely readers! Those of you who live in the UK will have noticed that it has become significantly colder in the last weeks and as our heating is pretty dreadful I have shifted my sewing focus towards knits, jersey and cosy clothes. Pretty much everything I’ve made since the start of October has been made in a stretch knit or jersey, so much so that I’ve just left the ballpoint needle on the machine.
Pattern: Simplicity 1563A
Trousers: Pink Floral Jersey, Sew Sew Sew
Notions: Already Owned
Step 1: Pattern Cutting
As this project was designed to be self-care sewing I wanted to to make sure that every step of the way was simple and didn’t require any extra thought. I actually did this pattern cutting at around 11:30pm so I just grabbed my travel guides as pattern weights and got cutting.
Step 2: Sew The Long Leg Seams & Place One Leg In The Other
Let me start by saying that this jersey is an absolute dream to sew, heavy but soft with a good amount of stretch, it absolutely flew through the machine. I made sure to stitch these seams with a zig-zag and then I double stitched in the seam allowance with a straight stitch. to ensure the jersey can stretch easily with sleep movement. Sew each leg together from the ankle-hem all the way up to the crotch. Then place one leg inside the other, right sides together, and sew up the crotch seam to create your trousers. Press Open the crotch seam and reinforce if necessary. I have chosen not to reinforce the crotch seam because I didn’t feel like I needed it but I may still do it in the future. I want to see how they wear.
Step 3: Create The Waistband Channel And Insert The Elastic
Honestly I did this step almost completely by eye. I’ve made this pattern four times now and I know how much space I like in the waist and hip area. I sewed the waistband with a wide zigzag as well to make sure the elastic can move with the fabric then inserted very wide band elastic and made it to my upper hip/low waist measurement and then took half an inch off to make sure they fit snugly and don’t move in my sleep. One of the wonderful things about making clothes just for me is that I can work to my own tastes. Once the elastic was inserted I double stitched the waistband with a straight stitch underneath my zigzag to reinforce it.
Step 4: Hem The Trousers
Create a simple double hem to the length you require and stitch in place. I made a large cuff because the pattern is for somebody 4/5 inches taller than I am! They are still too long for me but I really like to have them a little long so my feet stay warm in bed. I stitched the cuff with a straight stitch to fix the length in place and voila! One pair of extremely snug pyjamas. I ran up an incredibly quick tank top in a remnant of viscose jersey. I just sewed the side and top seams and then stabilised the neckline. Nice and easy and they are possibly the most comfortable pyjamas I’ve ever owned!
Why was this project so important?
I don’t normally put this bit at the end of a project blog but I wanted to say a word for selfish sewing. Do it. Sew something for yourself, especially if you commercially sew for others. Take a moment to think about something you want, you really want. Whether thats a garment you need or something you’ve always wanted to buy or you just need some time to yourself, sew something for exclusively for you. I’m having a stressful time at the moment with a full time job, a part-time degree, teaching yoga twice a week, driving lessons and sewing is the only thing giving me time to just breathe. These pyjamas took me less than an hour but they might be my favourite make because they are only for me and for the house. They are officially my self-care pyjamas because we all need those clothes that help us relax. Now I’m going to slip into my cosy pyjamas and get into bed with a good crime book!
This is my first detailed project blog for a while but here I am to talk to you about this month’s make chosen from my copy of Love Sewing magazine. I only started my subscription last month but I already love it, I love how many free patterns you can access and its always super interesting to hear from other makers, experts and amateurs alike! The second I saw the My Handmade Wardrobe Boxy Blouse from Crafty Sew & So I had to make it. I love shirts, I love the silhouette and having just bought a machine almost purely because of its incredible buttonhole functionality I was desperate to sew buttonholes. A sentence I’m sure no one has said before. Whilst containing some familiar elements such as collars and buttons this pattern also contained a little challenge in the form of my first ever yoke.
In the spirit of the New Craft House #sewyourselfsustinable challenge I decided I would use a deadstock remnant I had left over from another project, my gorgeous daisy patterned viscose from Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn, and I used the rest of the pink shell buttons from my fish dress earlier in the summer. So not only was this project super fun but it didn’t cost me a thing, well apart from the cost of the magazine but hey you can’t have everything. I have also been a little under the weather due to personal health issues and I felt this project was the perfect way to get my sew-jo back.
Buttons: Pink Shell Look 10mm Buttons, The Button Shed
Pattern Printing: Me, my printer and a lot of tape.
Step 1: Pattern Printing & Cutting
I printed the whole pattern on my printer at home which means that the pieces probably aren’t perfect but they were as good as I could get them! Still it is quite fun to be able to print at home and start straight away. My fabric layout wasn’t as efficient as it could have been but I wanted to make sure the stripes would be evenly lined up on the shirt.
Step 2: Create The Box Pleat In The Back
I liked this as a first step because I love a box pleat and it felt cosy and familiar. They are easy to make and so satisfying to look at afterwards. I’m not going to explain this step really as its clear, follow the markings and make a box pleat in the back panel, but here is a picture of mine as I do just love them.
Step 3: Create Your Yoke
It was at this stage I realised that I did not have the correct yoke pieces. On the pattern piece it does not tell you to cut the yoke on the fold, it just tells you to cut two pieces. The cutting layout in the magazine is also incorrect. Having never done a yoke before I naturally followed the instructions and cut two individual halves of the yoke. It was only when I got to the assembly stage that I realised something was extreme wrong. Luckily I managed to squeeze another yoke piece out of my remnant however I couldn’t cut a second one so you will see that my inner yoke is two pieces sewn together and my outer yoke is one continuous piece. It wasn’t a huge drama as luckily I had just enough fabric left but it is definitely worth flagging that you must cut two yokes on the fold rather than just two pieces as the pattern piece states. Once you have got the correct yoke pieces, attach the back pleated piece to the base of the yoke with pins and then roll it up. Then attach the fronts of the shirts to the shoulder seams again with pins and roll them up until you end up with something resembling the first picture below. You then place your second yoke piece on top to create something that looks like a calzone.
Step 4: Stitch The Seams & Pull Through
As this was my first time using the burrito method I was understandably nervous, I kept thinking to myself ‘surely this won’t work’ and yet! As long as you roll the fabric pieces nice and tightly inside and leave the seams flat you can stitch along the shoulders and back seam et voila! You reach through the neck and pull out your finished garment. I was absolutely enthralled by this process and proceed to bore my partner for a good 10 minutes with my utter amazement at this technique. He was actually very sweet and listened to me far longer than he had to but I was extremely excited about it.
Step 5: Create Your Button Plackets
This is a simple step and yet… I was quite tired by this point so accidentally pressed the placket to the right side instead of the wrong side, luckily I realised and was able to fix it quickly. You fold the placket 1.5cm to the wrong side, then again and stitch down the open side. To make this easier for yourself make sure you cut the notches on the neckline as they show you the distancing.
Step 6: Create & Attach Collar
Having really struggled with my last collar it almost felt like seeing an old friend when I started to cut out the pieces. I interfaced them with medium weight interfacing because honestly its all I had in the house and i reasoned that as my fabric was so lightweight it probably needed the extra weight and honestly it helped significantly, I don’t think the collar would have stood up correctly otherwise. However I did have one issue stitching on the collar, on the pattern pieces it said to use a 1.5cm seam allowance when stitching them together which I did however when I came to attach it to the garment I found that the collar was at least 1.5cm short on each side. I really had to snip into the neckline and do a lot of easing to get it on. It really isn’t my neatest collar but thankfully the colour and pattern of the fabric hide it. Next time I will reduce the seam allowance massively but otherwise the instructions were very clear and easy to follow.
Step 7: Side Seams & Finish Raw Edges
At this point its a nice simple finish for the side seams, I stitched them at the 1.5cm seam allowance and then used my overlock stitch on my machine to finish the edges. If you have an overlocker you could probably just overlock them but either way, a simple finish, then I used a rolle hem on the end of the sleeve and on the bottom hem of the shirt. I used a rolled hem for two reasons, firstly speed but secondly because I am working with a very lightweight, almost diaphanous, viscose and I didn’t want the hem to sit too heavily.
Step 8: Buttons & Buttonholes
For once I was absolutely itching to get to this stage because the buttonhole function on my new sewing machine is genuinely phenomenal. I have a Singer Starlet 6680 with a 1-step buttonhole function. Its got the cleverest buttonhole foot, like an enormous frame that measures the size of the button then creates the right sized space for the needle to sew a perfectly fitting buttonhole. I was so confident in this function that I actually used contrasting thread and used a thicker buttonhole to show them off. Not only did I have a great time sewing the buttonholes I also machine sewed my buttons on for the first time ever! My lovely new machine came with a plethora of feet that I am only now getting time to experiment with. the buttonhole foot is absolutely excellent and saved me a huge amount of time as well as saving my eyes from strain. I am beyond chuffed with the result and it was a super fun way to finish off this garment.
What I love about this pattern is that it is challenging and yet simple. On the one hand you are attaching a collar which can be tricky and you have buttons and buttonholes to worry about, on the other, there are no sleeves to worry about and all the finishes are pretty basic. It’s a bite sized amount of challenge and a fantastic project for beginners who want to branch out into new techniques. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this pattern to every beginner anywhere, its fun, the instructions are simple, the garment is eminently wearable. My only caveat would be that the cutting instructions could be better, as I mentioned above the cutting label on the yoke piece was downright incorrect, but despite that I would still recommend this pattern as a fantastic introduction to collars, buttons and shirts.
As my YouTube subscribers will know, I have just finished making the Amaya Shirt from Made My Wardrobe. Today I am mopping up, resetting my machine and trying to sort some other little projects/alterations/fixes which have been piling up for a while now. However, before I completely forget how I made it I wanted to share my tips, tricks and honest feedback on my making journey for the Amaya Shirt.
Firstly, here it is in all her gorgeous, flute-sleeved glory. Honestly I would never have thought of making this pattern originally, it was very much the case that the fabric came first. I bought this stunning red spot cotton from The Rag Shop with no clue at all what I was going to make with it. For transparency I almost never do that, I’m always very project lead but I thought, you know what? I’ve got to have it. When I posted about it online and asked for recommendations Steph from The Rag Shop got in touch and suggested the Amaya Shirt. I was intrigued and although its a little out of my comfort zone fashion-wise I decided to take the plunge.
It also took me out of my technical sewing comfort zone. My first proper top stitching, my first raglan sleeves, it was all a journey and I really made myself take my time. Especially as I knew that I didn’t have enough fabric to recut if I made a mistake. I’m really glad I took the time, doing only one or two pattern steps a day for a week. It was a lovely way to wind down from work each day and I feel like this is technically one of the best garments I’ve made because I didn’t rush a single step. So my first and biggest piece of advice I can give you is to take your time with this make, there aren’t many steps but they all require accuracy and care. Below I have linked my vlog so you can join me for every step of the sew and you can also see just how many grey jumpers I own as I change between days.
My Top Tips:
Draw The Line For The Front Opening – seriously, do this. I thought I wouldn’t bother but it requires a straight line stitched 4cm in from the edge which is surprisingly hard to do by eye and most machines don’t have markings that go out that far. This was made extra difficult on my fabric as its exceptionally hard to draw a straight line on Swiss Cotton! Regardless draw a solid or dashed line, its worth it for a garment feature that is so front and centre.
Really Press The Centre Front Open – While we talking about the centre front…before you start top stitching you absolutely must press it open thoroughly so that your facing and seam doesn’t bulge when you do the top stitching.
Finish All The Edges As You Go – Cards on the table, I’m straight up awful at finishing raw edges when I sew, honestly just awful, but I really made the effort with this garment partly because i didn’t want fraying but mostly because it actually really helps with the structure and the strength of the seams. I am particularly highlighting this as something you should as you go along because there are quite a few seams you can’t access once the garment is done if you were hoping to have a tidy up at the end. The pattern recommends overlocking but if you don’t have an overlocker then either you can zigzag or you can go on a voyage of discovery with your sewing machine and find out that it actually has four different overlock stitch options. (It’s the dream)
Gather Much Closer To The Neckline Edge Than You Think – Basically if you look at the outside of my garment the bind covers all the gathers, that is quite emphatically not the case on the inside. I did my gathers at the distance recommended by the pattern, or at least i think it did as I work in imperial and it only had metric, but at that distance it was impossible to enclose the gathers properly in the neck binding on both sides. So I would recommend sewing one row in the seam allowance and then other just beyond it. You will still be able to gather and you will be able to enclose both sides in the binding.
Go By Your Measurements – so I looked at the finished pattern measurements and was going to make a size down as they looked huge but when I looked at the body measurements I saw that they actually put me in the 10 bracket. I decided to go with the 10 because I would rather it fit my bust properly and then i could adjust other areas but actually i found it to be a really nice fit. its loose but you actually have enough room to move and the sleeves and bust line are both really flattering. My recommendation would be to pick the pattern based on your bust size and then work from there.
Print Out The Pattern Instructions And Highlight – For me the pattern instructions required a second and even a third reading as I found the prose of the instructions very unclear. That could just be me but if you do have the same issue I would recommend printing them out and highlighting the action areas just for the sake of clarity. The pattern makes a stunning garment but the instructions could be easier to understand.
Use A Fairly Structured Fabric – It really helps with the construction and the fit of this garment. I’m sure you could easily make it out of more slippery fabrics but I think a structured cotton, linen or chambray would be a good starting point for a first make of this garment and would show off its more flattering and exciting features.
Those are my top tips for working with this pattern, its a great pattern and I have worn mine loads since I made it so I would recommend it for all abilities. Check out my sew-a-long vlog below to see how I got on making the Amaya Shirt.
My last project before I went away was a bias cut chevron top. This garment falls into the category of a simple yet deceptively difficult make. Now of course there aren’t many difficult techniques of garment construction involved, what makes this difficult is a) pattern matching and b) working on the bias.
I kid you not it took me well over an hour to cut these pattern pieces and it was nerve wrecking. The aim of this garment was not only to create a top on the bias to create a chevron pattern from my striped fabric. On top of that, as you will see from the fabric below, I made things even more difficult for myself because my stripes were not even. They are in groups of diffident widths and numbers so matching to an incredibly long time. To pattern match a chevron on the bias you need to cut your pattern pieces at right angles diagonally, and honestly I used my first pattern pieces cut my second to ensure the match. Eventually I gained enough confidence in my matching skills and cut my pieces but it really was a learning curve. Pattern matching is something I’ve avoided for years because I didn’t think I could do it but this garment has increased my confidence and shown me that I shouldn’t be scared of new techniques! Everything is a chance to improve.
3 Things I’ve Learnt About Pattern Matching
It takes TIME. Seriously it took me an hour to cut out my pattern pieces because I spent so long making sure that the stripes lined up. I made things even more difficult for myself than I realised.
Iron your fabric beforehand to make sure that you can match accurately and remember to include your seam allowances.
Transfer your directional markings on to the pattern pieces, it’s such a help when pattern matching on the bias and particularly when you are creating a chevron.
Step 2: Stay Stitch The Neckline
As always an incredibly important step but no less so when working on the bias as you want to make sure that your garment doesn’t warp. At the time I felt like Ihad done this well but afterwards I realised that it wasn’t my best work. This is entirely because I went to fast and allowed the viscose to slip and slide all over the place as it often does. Even more so when working on the bias. In fact this project has made me reflect on how rarely I cut anything on the bias. One of the wonderful things about this project is that it has helped me to understand my fabric better and the literal mechanics of fabric use.
3 Things I’ve Learnt About Working On The Bias
There is a lot more mobility that you think there will be. Even in stiff fabric the bias still provides a lot of stretch so just imagine how I was working with a slippery viscose. I had to handle the fabric incredibly carefully to ensure it didn’t warp as I sewed it.
If you’re pattern matching on the bias use a lot of pins and sew slowly. Louder for everyone at the back. Sew slowly, sew carefully, keep both hands on the fabric and match carefully as you go.
Cut a single layer of fabric at a time and if possible use a rotary cutter and mat, this stops the fabric from shifting or stretching when you cut it.
Step 3: Centre Seams
Take your time matching your front and back centre seams and sew slowly with control. Make sure your machine doesn’t pull the layers of fabric apart at all and continue to check the match as you go. I went so slowly and carefully at the time I had to keep reminding myself to breathe but the sense of relief when I finished sewing and took it over to the iron was unbelievable. Remember to sew the back just as carefully at the front and if you want one tip, especially for matching chevrons, start sewing the seam from the top of the garment down, this makes sure that if anything does move it won’t spoil the finish at the neckline.
Step 4: Shoulder Seams & Side Seams
I forgot to take pictures of these as I went because I was so focused but here they are on the machine. Treat these carefully as you don’t want to warp the shoulder of the garment or stretch the silhouette. Shoulder seams press towards the back so you can include both sides of the seam in the neck bind and in the armhole hem.
Step 5: Bias Binding the Neckline
Now this top contained a lot of firsts for me, I’d never worked on the bias, I’d never done pattern matching and I’ve never really used bias binding let alone made my own. I’ve learnt a lot from this, I’m proud of my first go but it definitely isn’t quite right. When I look at the photo below and the garment itself I can see that I’ve bound the raw edge but not actually bound the neckline, you can’t see the binding which is a mistake. Next time I will definitely be pressing my binding more carefully so that its easier to use.
3 Things I’ve learnt about Bias Binding
You’ve got to treat it gently especially if you’ve made your own and cut it carefully, its got to be even.
Stitch slowly and carefully around the neckline so you don’t stretch it as you bind.
Cut it carefully and iron it out fully before you fold it and then iron in the folds.
Step 6: Finish Raw Edges
The final step is just to finish the arms and bottom hem. Depending on the weight of your fabric you could use a double hem or, as I’ve done, just a quick rolled hem. Then you have your very own bias cut top!
I adore this top and I’m very proud of it but there are definitely a couple of bits I would change if I made it again. The fit is nice but I think the neckline is a little high for my figure so I would make it slightly deeper. My sewing has improved just making this top and I would definitely consider a garment with pattern matching again albeit with caution and careful fabric choice. Let me know what you think in the comments below, love pattern matching, hate it, have certain tricks you use? Tell me everything. Until then, go forth and pattern match!
Happy Monday Everyone! I am half way through my week off from work and I’m feeling good. The stress is starting to dissipate and I’m beginning to really enjoy my time away. We are still in Colchester so no live sewing for moment but I want to talk about a top I whipped up in 2 hours last Sunday and it’s one I am really proud of. We all have those moments when inspiration runs dry, when we just can’t think what to sew and none of our projects are appealing to us. On those days it can be hard to find the enthusiasm for a single stitch, I had tried to pattern draft for another project but I was just too tired so I had a lie down. Adam and I then had a chat about what I could make and in particular what my current wardrobe lacks. The answer to this is actually pretty easy. I really lack tops. I have knitwear coming out of my ears and plenty of shirts and fancy going out tops but I have very few just tops. There aren’t many t-shirts that I feel comfortable wearing and most of my evening tops are more drinks than office appropriate neither are they especially comfortable. I don’t need any more dresses for the moment so tops seemed a good place to start.
Out of desperation to do something sewing related I had a little look through my sewing magazine, just browsing really, when I came upon one of the free patterns that week. A lightweight batwing top which would be perfect for my red viscose crepe remnant from Sew Me Sunshine! The pattern said it required 1.5m but I can confirm that, at least for a size 8, 1 metre is absolutely fine. I gave myself 2 hours and just went for it, I didn’t really want to plan or think about it, i didn’t want to make too much of a production of it, I just got a cup of tea and starting sewing. I had been lacking inspiration all weekend and I just wanted to make SOMETHING to break the deadlock. I was a bit nervous, especially as I’ve never printed an A0 pattern at home, but I am really pleased with the result. Its not the neatest garment in the world but it was a very quick and easy make and I would definitely recommend the pattern for beginners or anyone who wants to start in the morning and wear the garment out to lunch.
Fabric: Red Spotty Viscose Crepe, Sew Me Sunshine (1m Remnant)
Pattern: Sew Simple Gwen Top
Sew Time: 2.5 Hours
Step 1: Cut Out The Never-Ending A0 Pattern
This honestly was the longest step of the entire project. I had to print out 20 pages, cut all the edges off the A4 pieces, tape them together then cut out the actual pattern pieces. It definitely reminded why I get my PDF patterns printed in A0 by somebody else and sent to me! Honestly though I didn’t mind too much because the pattern itself was free and it was a quick Sunday night make. I ended up with something like this. I didn’t want to waste sellotape and we have a hold load of parcel tape so its not very pretty but it did even up as well structured(if hard to fold) pattern pieces.
Step 2: Cut Out The Pattern Pieces
One of the things that makes this pattern so quick and easy is that there are only two pieces for this garment, front and back. I could have done with sharper scissors because no matter how simple the project is viscose is always slippery.
Step 3: Shoulder Seams & Side Seams
The first step is to carefully stay stitch the necklines 1cm in from the edge, as above, and then stitch the shoulder seams and press open. Move on to the side seams, stitch and press again. The side seams in this garment are less that 6 inches long because this top is about 90% sleeve!
Step 4: Finish Raw Edges
The pattern asked for bias binding however that would have been far too heavy on my fabric so I just did rolled hems everywhere and I think it worked very well with the viscose crepe. And you’re done! Thats genuinely it. A simple, easy sew that produces an flattering and attractive garment. I was so happy with it that I even went out in the thunder storm to get pictures
This top was quick, easy and didn’t require too much brain power. I love the drape, I adore the neckline and its a wonderful pattern to just make without having to think or plan or toile. It would also make an excellent remnant buster as you really can squeeze it out of a metre. It looks great with jeans or shorts and you could even tuck it into a pencil skirt for work. This pattern is a massive win in my book and I would recommend it to absolutely everybody who sews. If you just need an easy win then this pattern is for you.
Hello everyone, its been quite the week so far and its only Tuesday! I launched my sewing YouTube channel, So What If I Sew on Sunday and I’ve already nearly got 100 followers. Thank you so much to everyone who has followed me so far, if you haven’t, go check out my channel, my intro video is below. Also you might have noticed but the blog has had a major makeover, I have been doing a lot of web design at work and I decided to put my new skills to the test with the blog. So a very busy weekend all round.
Two weeks ago I made my very first garment on my gorgeous new machine and it was fantastic fun. In fact that is what prompted me to start the YouTube Channel, I started to make the Rhea Dress from Tammy Handmade and I was trying to think about how I would write the blog for such a big project and then I realised that I could just talk about it to camera. I was very nervous so I asked on Instagram if people would be interested in a Sew-A-Long and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
It was quite an experience having never vlogged before but I actually really enjoyed it. It was exciting to share the process of creating a garment on my machine and I feel comfortable on camera, It’s like I can just have a chat with you all about what I’m making while I’m doing it. You can follow my highs and lows, see me talk about techniques I’m using and follow an honest and realistic journey as I make my garment. Like what you’re hearing? Then go ahead and subscribe to my YouTube! Below you will find my vlog and first ever sew-a-long for the Rhea Dress and this post will be mostly notes on the process of making it.
On to the dress itself. The Rhea Dress is a gorgeous tiered midi dress with straps. The construction is simple and elegant and its deceptively easy, suitable for beginners. I received the pattern after a friend who I tagged in an instagram giveaway received it instead and passed it on to me. I bought a stunning remnant from Sew Sew Sew online, I needed 2.5m of fabric for this dress and I managed to find a stunning blue viscose remnant in a firework pattern that just happened to be 2.74m long! I wasn’t especially concerned about the pattern itself but I was nervous about the gathers because prior to this video I had never done them. If you are nervous about gathering then this dress is a fantastic project! Not only is it a simple introduction to gathering but by the time you’ve finished you’ve done so much gathering that you’ll never be nervous about it again.
Good Points On The Pattern?
The pattern has a very flattering shape, I was doubtful as to whether it would suit me but i felt so graceful and elegant swishing around in this dress. It doesn’t cling but the drape still gives a nice silhouette.
It’s a quick and easy sew. I spread mine across two days and as I was filming it took longer because I talked through each stage. It is a simple sew in terms of technique. The gathering takes time because of the sheer volume of the skirt but you could probably do it in a day if you’re experienced.
Things to be aware of
The pattern is very loose by design, its got that boho, loose fitting, flowing silhouette but that does mean that you may need to size down. I definitely needed to make adjustments as you will see in the video but I’m glad i made a 10 and then adjusted it to my frame.
The straps are quite long and very hard to adjust once you’ve inserted them so I would advise either making a toile of the entire bodice or just measuring your torso beforehand and shorten the straps accordingly.
I had a marvellous time both making the dress and vlogging, in fact I’m recording my next vlog at the moment! I have had such wonderful support from everyone so far in the online sewing community. In the meantime, I’ve got a couple of projects to upload to the blog including one surprise home make so look out for lots of posts coming your way.