Category Archives: Sewing

Shoreline Boatneck – another hack in progress

Even before I finished my first Shoreline Boatneck, I was already planning my next one. I needed a jacket to wear on the allotment if it looked like it might rain (typical British summers and all that), and my previous hacked Shoreline Boatneck looked like it would be just the right style.

I found some navy Rip-Stop and floral polycotton at Minerva Crafts, which look like they should be ideal for the jacket I want to make. So far I have most of the pieces cut out, but I’m still working on getting the hood to fit – the hood pattern comes from a different top, so the neckline is a totally different length, which is taking a bit of fiddling to get it to line up properly.

 

 

Shoreline Boatneck hack

I will admit that I have never hacked a pattern before – literally every item of clothing I’ve made so far, has been done according to the pattern. However, the Blank Slate Patterns Shoreline Boatneck caught my eye, and was screaming to be hacked into something slightly different.

The pattern itself comes with a ‘hack pack’ with suggestions like a button back, or making it into a dress. But the idea of buttons down the back has never really appealed to me – I wanted to add them to the front. However, my sewing machine didn’t really like me sewing 7 buttons on the front of my previous shirt so I wanted to find a way around that. Really, I needed to stitch the buttonholes first, so if I messed it up, I wasn’t ruining an entire top.

Luckily I found a tutorial for a hidden button placket at Craftsy, which with a few tweaks was able to be used on my Shoreline top. Ironically, those buttonholes are the neatest I’ve sewn so far, but it definitely looks nicer having them hidden from view.

The fabric is a double duvet cover set from Shaws Direct – I actually only used the two pillowcases for this top, so that leaves me with about 4m of fabric I can use for a couple of dresses.

I started the buttons just above the bust level, although I think I could’ve done with adding in another on the neckline just to help keep the shape. But as it is, I can use a small clip as a decorative feature if I want to. The only other change I made was to add a seam allowance to the back, and cut those pieces separately – the pillowcases didn’t quite work out to be the right size to cut the back on the fold!

So there you have it; my first Shoreline Boatneck, and my first pattern hack – you wouldn’t really know that was made from two pillowcases, would you?

An Early Christmas Present

I was looking for something relatively easy to make for K’s Christmas present – his Mum has given me a great idea for a present I can work on for his birthday, but I needed something that would be a faster make for Christmas!

Enter the free Fleece Hat pattern from Fleece Fun – not only was it useful to make my own hat, but it has sizes all the way from baby to extra-large adult! I found just over half a metre of red fleece in my local fabric shop, along with a cute zebra iron-on patch just to liven it up a little.

I did modify the pattern slightly, making the hat a little longer than it’s meant to be, to allow for the brim to be rolled for a snugglier fit. I wasn’t too confident at how the patch would iron on (there weren’t any instructions on it), so I zigzag stitched around the outside just to ensure it would stay in place.

Hopefully we’ll get some seasonal cold weather, so K has an excuse to wear it!

Wallet Knockoff Attempt (WIP)

A true WIP (Work in Progress) today, rather than another UFO (Unfinished Object). I was given this wallet a few years ago, but the material has started to break up and it’s not looking all that startling now. So given that I like the style of this particular wallet, I wanted to try and make my own ‘knockoff’ version of it. Only trouble is, I’ve never attempted anything like that before, so where on earth do you start?

Dragon's Flame Designs - Knockoff wallet attempt

The original wallet

I began unpicking the topstitching, gradually making my way through the various layers, taking photos as I went so I know where each piece was attached. When the wallet was made, they cheated and glued down the seam on the inside before topstitching it, which was an experience to try unpicking the stitches from!

So far I have almost all the pieces unpicked and my next aim will be to trace around them to make a paper pattern. Given how complex it looks, I’ll probably then make a rough version in some cheap polycotton to ensure I’m happy with how it all should go together. And then with a bit of luck I can make the ‘proper’ wallet!

Wish me luck!

New Look 6483 – take 2

I came across this really nifty fabric in my local fabric shop, but the original top I had in mind just didn’t look right on me. So I decided it was time I tackled New Look 6483 again – you may remember the original version I made back in June.

This particular fabric was a little thin and I really didn’t want to risk it being see-through, so I made a lining from a plain white polycotton. I simply tacked the plain polycotton to the wrong side of the owl fabric then treated it as one piece of fabric.

Dragon's Flame Designs - New Look 6483

When it came to the hem, I wanted the polycotton lining to be hemmed as one, rather than having a separate lining hem. I folded up the hem on the owl fabric and the polycotton lining, then caught the lining hem on the inside as I was sewing.

Dragon's Flame Designs - New Look 6483

I’m pleasantly surprised how well this top came out – I don’t normally wear sleeveless tops, but the armholes look almost perfect with no alterations needed. I kept the neckline as the pattern stated, which gave a nicer curve than I achieved last time. Admittedly adding a lining made the hemming a lot more challenging, but I don’t think it would’ve been wearable without a lining, given the thin nature of the fabric.

BIG Vintage Sew-along blouse

BV sewalong - badge_thumb

It’s taken a long time, but I have finally finished my BIG Vintage Sew-along vintage-inspired blouse!

As you may remember, I picked a vintage inspired shirt: Butterick 6217, but I hadn’t actually got as far as sorting out the buttons.

Well, after a lot of arguments with the sewing machine because it just didn’t want to sew the one-step buttonhole correctly, I finally have a wearable blouse!

 

Dragon's Flame Designs - Vintage-Inspired Blouse

I love the style of the sleeves – I might have to ‘borrow’ that pattern piece for other tops! I bought 8 buttons instead of 7, as I felt the buttons would look more balanced if there one was in the centre of each stripe, rather than where the pattern says they’re supposed to be.

The shop didn’t have 8 that matched exactly, so I chose 4 in a slightly lighter shade for the dark stripes, and 4 in a darker shade of red for the white stripes – looking at the photo, you wouldn’t know they weren’t identical buttons!

I definitely need to practise buttonholes, or at least use some stabilising behind the fabric when I stitch them…. half way through most of the holes, the sewing machine suddenly stopped moving the fabric and decided to zigzag a lump of stitches which was a nightmare to unpick!

Overall though, I love the style of the blouse, and I’m pretty happy with how the stripes line up on the front too. Maybe I need to use a slightly ‘nicer’ fabric next time though – polycotton or a pure cotton might be a little more co-operative.

Adventures in hemming jersey

My first attempts at hemming jersey were complete failures – none of the hems stretched with the fabric, which resulted in several scrapped items.  Ideally I’m looking for a hem that looks “right” for a sweatshirt or t-shirt – either something that looks like a regular straight stitch, or a twin needle effect. Sewing two lines of stitches just left me with a seam that had no stretch at all, so I’ve given up on the twin needle look for the moment.

After asking some advice in an online sewing group, I dug out my sewing machine’s instruction book and set about making some scrap hems to see which one came out best. Three stitches were recommended:

  • regular narrow zigzag
  • lightning bolt stitch
  • triple stretch straight stitch.

Narrow zigzags haven’t stretched as much as I need and a wider zigzag has given a lot of tunnelling where the fabric catches up, so I didn’t try that out this time. I don’t actually have a lightning bolt stitch on my machine, and I’m pretty sure the triple stretch straight stitch is what my machine calls the Straight Stretch Stitch.

Setting my machine up with the even-feed (walking) foot and a ballpoint needle, I changed the tension to match the instruction book’s details, and lowered the pressure on the foot to the ‘applique’ setting.

First up was the Straight Stretch Stitch which to give credit to my machine’s instruction book, is used for reinforcing a hem (such as the crotch of a pair of trousers) as well as in bag making as the stitch will not unravel. It doesn’t mention using this for stretchy fabric at all.

Dragons Flame Designs - Hemming Jersey

I could probably adjust the stitch length to get it to look slightly neater – parts of it line up right, but others looked quite messy. However, it didn’t actually stretch all that much – the jersey could stretch twice as much as the stitches allowed.

So that clearly wasn’t going to work for a sweatshirt that needed to stretch enough to allow me to get it on. Maybe the Stretch Zigzag Stitch which the instructions say can be used whenever you would use a regular zigzag, but for knit fabric would be better.

Dragons Flame Designs - Hemming Jersey

Again, the stitch length could do with adjusting to get the triple stitches to line up correctly. However, it does stretch perfectly, and while it would be ok for a seam, it doesn’t look neat enough for a hem stitch that will show on the right side.

Flicking a page or two back, I came across the Knit Stitch which is said to finish off the ends and seam at the same time.

Dragons Flame Designs - Hemming Jersey

This one also has a perfect amount of stretch, and doesn’t look too terrible even though it’s not quite the look I was aiming for. It did however make for a brilliant pair of fingerless mitts! I hemmed the top and bottom with the knit stitch, then stitched the side seam with the straight stretch stitch, remembering to leave a thumb hole!

Dragons Flame Designs - Hemming Jersey

I’m not as fussed about the look of the stitch for these – as long as the fabric stretches sufficiently so I can wear them comfortably, I’d rather people were looking at the unusual stitches on my gloves than staring at the eczema on my hands! Overall, these are the most successful mitts I’ve sewn so far, and the knit stitch hem is perfect – stretchy without leaving a bulk of stitches on the inside that might irritate my skin.

I decided to use the same stitch to hem the fleece hoodie I started making last winter – I was determined to finish it before this winter, so I can actually get some wear from it!

Dragons Flame Designs - Hemming Jersey

These stitches don’t show up as clearly, as the thread is an almost exact match for the fleece. However, if I was making a sweatshirt or t-shirt in a patterned fabric, I think I still would want a stitch that looks a little more ‘normal’. Maybe I need to get a few more jersey scraps and test out a couple more stitches!

Simplicity Sewing Challenge – Best Blogger Feature

This year I thought I would challenge myself by making a skirt. An ideal make for the “best blogger feature” in the Simplicity Sewing Challenge. We were able to pick any of the challenge patterns for this category. I chose the New Look 6346 skirt pattern – I never seem to have the right style of skirt when we have warm summer weather! I also need more practise at making skirts that actually fit me!

Originally I was going to pick version A (the longer button-up skirt), given the cooler summers we often get I thought this would be a good choice! After looking at the options in detail, I went with version C – the shorter zipped version instead. I think that style will be more user-friendly when it comes to wearing it, and should be just the right length for me, especially as I am just five foot tall!

The whole idea of the sewing challenge is to make “your take on a Simplicity make” but how on earth can you make a skirt different enough? I didn’t think that simply adding pockets or a decorative trim would be radical enough, and I’m not really into “girly” trims anyway, so I thought I’d be totally different and make the skirt into a dress!

Armed with my self-drafted bodice pattern, I worked out that I’d need a size 12 for the skirt, but just in case I needed to make a larger size at a later date, I didn’t want to cut into the paper pattern. Then came the next challenge – how to trace off the pattern accurately. I’ve seen freezer paper mentioned on a lot of blogs, but I’ve never seen it on sale over here; greaseproof paper is nicely transparent, but only comes on narrow rolls and no matter how hard I try it will not stick to itself! And believe me I have tried!! Instead I bought a pack of Burda dressmakers’ carbon paper from a local fabric shop plus a roll of brown paper from Poundland on a whim to see if that would work.

Dragons Flame Designs - Simplicity Sewing Challenge

It definitely works well – the yellow and white show up brilliantly on the brown paper, and it can be stuck together with ordinary sellotape to make a wider sheet if needed.

My bodice pattern finishes at the waistline and the New Look 6346 skirt waistband sits just above the waist, so I was able to line them up perfectly. Because of the darts in the bodice, I chose to cut the pieces separately, so I had the bodice and neck / arm facing, waistband and skirt for the front and back. Keeping the waistband in the dress, meant I was able to retain the shape of the New Look 6346 skirt, while still making it into a completely fresh look.

The dress had the potential to turn into a ‘mongrel’ where I was trying to join two different patterns together, so before I cut into my posh fabric, I made up a wearable muslin version first. I find this really helpful to have a “rough” version to experiment with. Who knows it may even turn out wearable! The bodice needed a little fiddling to get the waistline to match the skirt – rather than making the darts larger, I folded over a little more fabric at the base of the darts to make the measurements match without cutting out too much breathing space.

Dragons Flame Designs - Dress Muslin

My Simplicity Sewing Challenge skirt dress muslin – fabric is half a duvet cover

Despite the excess fabric at the front, the fit was a lot better than I’d anticipated. However, in sewing the zip into the back, I managed to get the seams misaligned. Argh! Decision time. Do I want to unpick a lot of tiny stitches and risk making a hole in either the fabric or the zipper tape? I decided to be reckless and break out my posh fabric to start the final version. I am always anxious when cutting into my posh fabric.  Making that first cut is a challenge in itself!

Dragons Flame Designs - Simplicity Sewing Challenge

Sewing the seams, trying to make them as neat as possible

This particular polycotton is quite ‘fray-happy’ so I’ve taken care to finish all my raw edges as I go – the faux overlock stitch on my machine is proving really handy for this. I find that using a zigzag stitch with the regular foot makes the fabric catch up a little, leaving a ridge instead of a nice flat edge.

The facings were a challenge, as I had drafted one facing to cover both the neck and armhole, but had no idea how to stitch it without any of the stitches showing on the right side! In the end, I stitched the neck as normal, and top stitched the armhole facing into position. It’s not visible unless you really look closely, and it certainly shouldn’t come undone in a hurry!

Dragons Flame Designs - Simplicity Sewing Challenge

A finished dress from New Look 6346 and a self-drafted bodice pattern. I am really pleased with the way the bodice and the skirt come together in the design of the fabric. The finished garment fits really well, and I think the fabric works wonderfully – it reminds me of a painting by numbers pattern. Thanks for the challenge Simplicity – now I have a whole new look!!

 

PJ Shorts

I’d considered trying to sew some PJ shorts before, but I haven’t ever tackled shorts before now, and was a little wary of just how challenging they would be! Using the free pattern from Melly Sews, I figured out I should be able to just make the shorts without any adjustments, so I bought a metre of polycotton and set about tracing off the pattern.

The pattern is designed to have the side seams nearer the front, which leads to a much nicer shape. I think when I make another pair, I’ll try adding in some inseam pockets though.

Dragons Flame Designs - PJ Shorts

To ensure the inner leg seams are as sturdy as possible, I decided to do french seams on those – it lead to a slightly bulky seam, but they shouldn’t split in a hurry, which is what you need for shorts!

 

Simplicity Sewing Challenge – Best Dressmaker

Back in May, I signed up for the Simplicity Sewing Challenge – the two sewing patterns arrived in early July, and once I finished my skirt dress, I set to work on my second pattern – Simplicity 1458 for the “best dressmaker” category.

It’s the first time I’ve even looked at princess seams, let alone an “amazing fit” pattern, so this dress was going to be a nice challenge! I started off by making a muslin but unfortunately my choice of fabric wasn’t that helpful – I’d picked a cheap polyester duvet cover, but the polyester meant the fabric slipped all over the place.

Dragons Flame Designs - Simplicity Sewing Challenge

So I scrapped plan A, and moved on to plan B: start again, and trace off the pattern pieces onto my new favourite sewing tool – brown paper! Ok, that probably sounds really weird, but I can’t get cheap freezer paper over here, and tracing paper is stupidly expensive. I have tried using greaseproof paper, but that doesn’t stick together at all, so I can’t make it wide enough for some of these pattern pieces.

Using some dressmakers carbon paper, a blunt pencil and the brown paper, means I can trace the pattern off, without risking cutting the original – really useful when you aren’t 100% certain of the size you’ll need, and don’t want to cut into the original.

I wanted the middle panel on the front and back of the dress to have a contrasting pattern to the sides and what better way to achieve that, than using a duvet cover? A double cover gave me plenty of fabric to play with, and I should have enough left over for a second dress too!

Dragons Flame Designs - Simplicity Sewing Challenge

Tracing the pattern markings onto the fabric

The only trouble is, cutting out all the brown paper pattern pieces and trimming the seams to separate the duvet cover pieces does tend to mean there’s a large pile of rubbish lurking under the table….

but that aside, I can finally get sewing these pieces together.

Generally speaking, I do not get on with sewing curves, particularly with opposing curves, as the concept of “easing” in fabric just sounds like a foreign language to me. But I wanted to make the seams as neat as I possibly could, so I made sure to machine tack all the seams and try the dress on several times before doing the final seam stitches.

The instructions are really informative, with instructions on how to let out or bring in the seams to suit your overall fit. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much I needed to do to get the fit just right for me – I just had to let out the side seams and also adjust a couple of the curved princess seams.

Dragons Flame Designs - Simplicity Sewing Challenge

I did my usual trick of using a regular zip rather than a concealed one, so I stitched the base of the centre back seam, and put the zip in before doing anything else. It’s so much easier to put in flat! I decided I wanted to add in the sleeves from view A, even though I would normally avoid them like the plague, but cheated slightly and stitched them in flat before I stitched the side seams. That meant the sleeves were easier to put in, and there was a lot less chance of the seams puckering.

Dragons Flame Designs - Simplicity Sewing Challenge

I’m pretty sure my V notch in the sleeve is wider than on the pattern, but I think it makes a nicer shape. I was very good and followed the pattern for the hem, stitching it by hand rather than cheating and using the machine.

Not content with adding sleeves from view A, I also decided to add in the collar from view C. This had to be unpicked a couple of times, as I’d managed to sew it in slightly wonky, but overall it gives the neckline a really good look.

Dragons Flame Designs - Simplicity Sewing Challenge

So there you have it – a finished Amazing Fit dress, that actually does have an amazing fit!