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’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!
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!
Hello lovely people, I hope you have had a wonderful weekend so far. Yesterday I hit 300 followers on my Instagram in just under four weeks! If you follow me on Instagram then, thank you! If you don’t then look me up @sowhatifisew . Anyway, on to this weekend’s challenge. As I had hit a little milestone and it was a miserable rainy day, we put a new series on Netflix and I decided to do a one-day sew. After my six month long dress project I needed a little palette cleanser so this project was ideal.
Last week I received a fabric haul from one of my favourite suppliers. They had a massive sale on so I went on a small fabric buying binge and I bought some beautiful fabrics. Not only that but I bought fabrics I was either nervous about using or had never used before. One of those was Viscose. As per usual when I work with a new fabric I spoke to my mum to check if there was a thing special I needed to do and she said that I didn’t need to use anything special but to mind out as the fabric can be slippery. I definitely found this to be the case. Once I got it into the sewing machine it sewed absolutely beautiful but oh my goodness I think I used about a million pins when I was attached the facing as it slips and stretches so easily. I will explain more as we go along but viscose definitely isn’t as scary as I thought it would be.
For this challenge I chose a simple shell top from the British Sewing Bee and used my gorgeous yellow floral viscose from Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn. This fabric has the most stunning drape and although it wasn’t a recommended fabric for this pattern I found that it worked very well. I’m glad that I chose a simple-ish pattern because as I have mentioned above, viscose is tricky to work with and I needed the simplicity to allow me to truly get to grips with the fabric. Also I realised recently that my wardrobe is pretty woeful in terms of tops and this pattern fits me really well so you may see a few more of these creeping into my DIY wardrobe.
Working with viscose is different from step one. Viscose is a little easier to work with if you iron it first so that’s what I did. Easier in comparison to what I shudder to think. When laying it out to be cut I had to enlist my partner, we took an end each, arched them up and laid the fabric down incredibly carefully. It was so slippery that I couldn’t actually manage to do it on my own and I wanted an even cut. Next time I use viscose I will cut with a rotary cutter because you get too much stretch in the fabric with scissors.
The first step of this pattern was stay stitching the necklines. Now generally I’m not great at remembering to staystitch but I always do necklines and I’m extremely glad I did in this case. There was a fair amount of stretch in the fabric so I was very careful working with it and used a lot of pins. On that note, I was so impressed with my darts on this top. They are the best darts I’ve ever done and sit really well on my bust when I wear the top. Then it’s a simple stitch together at the shoulder seams.
Facings & Interfacing
I had a problem here as I thought I had lightweight interfacing but I only had medium weight so instead I cut double of the facings from the fabric and stitched them together to stiffen the structure without having to use interfacing. This has worked very well in terms of structure but is a touch bulky. If I was doing it again, I would snip the seams down a little bit more.
The step that confused me the most was pulling the top through the facings once they were stitched. It was incredibly simple in actual fact but it looked impossible. The trick is to feed the back pieces through to the front and then voila! Remember to give it a good press.
Then it’s a case of side and back seams and a hem! I used a hook and eye for the back fastening rather than a rouleau loop and button because I find them easier to use and I couldn’t find a button in the house that felt right for the garment. Then you’re done! It was a full day sew, 10am – 5pm, because viscose takes care and patience and the way I did the facings takes a little more time.
Here is the finished garment! This is a firm favourite and I’m going to make a few of them I think as they are perfect for work and home. I love the pattern so I will definitely make a few more and as they don’t take much fabric I might even be able to get a few more out of my fabric remnants box. Today we are having a friend over for a socially distanced lunch and then Adam and I will watch TV and I’ll do some more mask sewing for my grandparents.
Today’s project is a little different to my usual sewing projects and its actually my first ever home make! I have officially welcomed the envelope pillow into my repertoire. My partner’s mum bought us some towels and a beautiful throw so I wanted to make something nice for her and I decided on a throw pillow. She actually gave me some beautiful homefurnishing fabric that she bought when she was redoing their house. She loved the fabric but wasn’t sure what to use it for so I thought I would make her an envelope pillow.
Envelope pillows are a really simple make, it took me an hour maybe an hour and a half at most. The longest part was waiting for the pad to arrive! I didn’t use a pattern, I just took measurements and went with it. Its honestly the easiest make and I would encourage anyone, particularly beginners to have a go.
Step 1 – Measure Up
Select the size of pillow you want to make. Either choose a pillow pad or measure an existing one if you looking to refresh an existing cushion. Take the measurement of the length and width of the pillow with a cloth measuring tape and ensure to measure including the curve of the pillow. Then add an inch at both ends of each measurement and mark out your square or rectangle on your fabric with tailors chalk.
Step 2 – Cut Your Three Pieces
When cutting upholstery or home-furnishing fabric I tend to use pinking shears as they have a bit more bite and stop fraying. To make the pillow you need three pieces.
1 x square (or rectangle) to the measurements from above.
2 x rectangular pieces the same width and approximately two thirds the length of the main square with at least a 4cm overlap.
To ensure the pieces fit lay them carefully on top of each other as you will sew them and make sure the outside edges match.
Step 3 – Finish the Envelope Edges
In order to create a nice finish on your pillow you are going to want to finish the two overlapping edges on the back. To finish the edges fold it over by 1/8inch and stitch and then do the same again.
Step 4 – Pin Together and Sew
Pin the pieces right side together and stitch along the outside edge with 1/2 inch seam allowance. Stitch continuously around the square and then press.
Step 5 – Clip Corners and Turn Out
Finally clip the corners and turn right side out. I turned my corners out using a biro with its lid on but a knitting needle, chopstick or anything else with a blunt point will do. Press once more and then voila, you’re done!
I think that most sewists and dressmakers have one item of clothing or one design that they’ve always wanted to make. One thing that prompted them to start sewing or to take their sewing more seriously. For me it was the inability to find a shirt/blouse that would fit. I have a larger bust, a narrow back and a narrow waist and as I got older I got embarrassed and frustrated that I just couldn’t get a shirt to fit me. Either I had to buy a shirt three sizes too big or risk an embarrassing button based incident. It was a problem at school and still is a problem at work if I’m honest. I had always thought shirts were outside of the realm of sewing possibility for me until I started sewing more often and realised that, whilst there were more techniques at play than in other patterns, a shirt is still made from a sewing pattern.
As I had never been able to get a shirt to fit there is one garment I have always wanted but never had the confidence to buy and that is a shirtdress. That is I didn’t have the confidence until I received my Christmas present from my boyfriend, a wonderful book called ‘Sew Many Dresses, So Little Time by Tanya Whelan’ which contains a series of bodices, skirts and sleeves and enables the sewist to make over 200 different dresses from those combinations. This book also has a fantastic section at the back on pattern adjustments and it was with the aid of this chapter I began to slowly and very carefully adjust the bodice pattern to my own measurements. I really made myself take my time, working slowly and methodically and stopping every time I remotely lost concentration. I then paired my button-down bodice with a three-quarter length sleeve and a full skirt, also with a button-down front. Every single piece of the pattern was altered or drafted by me. I wasn’t sure if the pattern would work in practice as there were so many skills I’d never tried so, as every good dressmaker should, I made a toile of the bodice complete with collar, button tabs, bust darts and a cap sleeve.
Once I made my toile and realised that my pattern might actually work I went fabric hunting and I finally found the perfect fabric. Its a medium weight cotton with painted fish on a black background and I love it. Its got enough structure to make an excellent shirt and it hangs really well in a full skirt.
Fast forward to yesterday when the fabric arrived in the morning and 6 hours of feverish sewing later and I have the outline of my dress! This dress is the first time I’ve ever inserted sleeves, my first self-drafted bodice and I am actually really proud of myself. I used to be really scared of sleeves but they really aren’t that bad, I don’t know what I was worried about! I understand there are more difficult sleeve patterns out there but its reassuring to know that I can insert basic sleeves.
The next stage is to add the collar and then create the buttonholes, add buttons and then hem the skirt and sleeves. It sounds like a lot and I am definitely going to take my time on those elements to make sure the garment comes out perfectly. For now here I am in the shell!