Tag Archives: Simplicity

Pattern? Check. Fabric? Check. Finished Shirt? Check!

I’ve been steadily working on my Simplicity Sewing Challenge makes, and tackled the dreaded buttonholes over the weekend…. much to my amazement, the gingham fabric I chose was a dream to sew! There were no ‘birds nests’ of thread and the sewing machine didn’t try eating the fabric through the bobbin either!

The fabric is a 1″ Check Corded Gingham from Minerva Crafts which works really well. I will admit I didn’t even attempt to match the checks on the seams, but then when you look at Dad’s ready-to-wear shirts, very few of them have matching patterns anyway. I did attempt to get the front checks to line up, but as you can see they were quite a bit off…. but that makes for a more unique looking shirt, right?

I did make a couple of alterations to the pattern; dad’s not all that tall, so I had to take out some of the length. In doing so, I realised I could actually get away with using one less button. As this is going to be a casual-wear shirt, I also left out the button on the collar. Dad doesn’t like to have the top button done up anyway, so there really wasn’t much point in adding one in just for show!

I think it passes the “dad test” – after posing for these photos, he didn’t want to change back out of the shirt, so I think he approves.

 


Shirt Inspiration – a Simplicity Sewing Challenge

Simplicity Sewing Challenge 2017

I’ve been working on my dress for the Simplicity Sewing Challenge, using a couple of really sleek satin fabrics from Minerva Crafts.

I measured out the bodice, stitched all the seams, then realised the waistline was about an inch lower than it’s meant to be (argh!). So I have to unpick the zip (which didn’t go in quite right in the first place anyway), to let me redo the horizontal bands and hopefully get everything lining up properly.

So, I’ve come to realise that there’s no way I will get it finished before the closing date. If I hadn’t needed to unpick the zip, I might have managed it, but unpicking stitches on a satin fabric has to be done more carefully than on a polycotton, so it’s going to take a while.

I’m determined to get it finished though – even if it will be too late to enter into the competition.

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!!

 

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!

 

 

Simplicity Sewing Challenge

Back in May, I signed up for the Simplicity Sewing Challenge – I chose two categories to enter: Best Dressmaker, and Best Blogger Feature. Part of the challenge is to put your own style into the pattern, so I’ve been trying to figure out just how I’m going to do that.

It took a while for the patterns to arrive, but they came in the post at the beginning of the month, so I’ve started on a muslin version of the dress. Cutting out the pieces was interesting, given that I’ve never made a dress with princess seams before, and my ability to sew an accurate opposing curve tends to be lacking! But I’m definitely up for the challenge for that.

Dragons Flame Designs - Simplicity Sewing Challenge

Tracing off the dress panels using dressmaking carbon paper

The blogger category allowed you to pick a pattern from the other categories, so I chose the skirt. Originally I was planning on making the button-up version, but I decided that the zipped one might be a style I would get more wear from. I do have an idea of how I can make that slightly different to the pattern, but it’ll be interesting to see if I can actually achieve what I have in mind!

So far so good – I’ve got the pieces cut out for the dress, and have started working on the skirt for a bit of variety. All I need to do now, is get a zip in the right length, so I can work on that part.

 

Simplicity 1556

The trouble with buying bubble bars from Lush, is that they come in a paper bag. Great for the environment, but what do you store it in to stop all the pieces going everywhere? I’ve found some small plastic food containers in Poundland that work pretty well, but then you get a pile of them in the wardrobe, which invariably falls over whenever you want to find something.

So, I decided to make Simplicity 1556 for my Mum’s Christmas present – a drawstring bag with pouches around the outside. There’s no dimensions given on the pattern envelope, but going on the fabric requirements, I hoped it would be large enough to work.

basket1

Armed with my red and orange outer fabric, and some nicely patterned orange lining fabric, my first problem was with the usual “fusible fleece”. Not having any of that to hand (and realising that if I bought it from the only shop I found it for sale, it’s cost more than the fabric did), I decided to use 2oz polyester wadding instead. I quilted that to the base and bag linings, so you can’t see the stitching on the outside.

asket2

Attaching the pouch strip was challenging, and some of the pouches are a different width to the others, but it fits the items I want to put in there. I will also admit I messed up the drawstrings, sewing the wrong ends together, but it still draws closed so I’m not going to unpick that!

I wanted to give her a pack of bath bombs from Slimbridge Soaps, but the packet of 4 wouldn’t fit into the pouch, so I made some small sewn bags to put them in individually – that way I can get one item per pouch, so it’ll fill them up 🙂

basket-pouches1

Lush didn’t stock her favourite bubble bar this year, but I did find an alternative – but what to put it in? I couldn’t just put it straight into the pouch, as they sometimes leave a greasy stain and that wouldn’t look good for a present. So I made a quick quilted pouch (quilting the lining again), which should mean the bubble bar can slide in, and hopefully not make a mess everywhere!

basket-pouch2

 

Basket fabric from Fashion Fabrics, Christmas fat quarters from John Lewis

New Look 6231

Finally I’ve completed the hem on the jacket! This was the first jacket I attempted, and it’s been sitting on a clothes hanger for ages while I plucked up the confidence to tackle the hem.

The peplum gives the jacket an interesting shape, but unfortunately it also gives it a curved hem…. and that was something I really struggled with.

The inside of the hem isn’t the neatest and there are some tucks and folds in there, but from the outside it looks pretty neat and that’s what matters. After all, who’s going to see the inside of the hem anyway?

The Simplicity Blogger Challenge

Although I’ve sewn a few things so far, I’d never actually completed an item of clothing. I’ve started several, but they’re all still in various stages of “not quite finished”. However, Simplicity’s Blogger Challenge spurred me into actually starting and finishing something!

I picked the easiest option – pattern 2286, which gives 6 different options for elasticated waist skirts. Not being overly fond of “girly” clothing, I picked option B; no lace, overlay or frilly bits!

At only 5′ tall, I normally have to decrease the length of clothing, but I felt that 16″ was still a little too short for a skirt worn just below the waist, so I added a couple of inches to the length. But just adding to the length wouldn’t be enough to make it my own style, and being a relatively new sewer, I didn’t want to dive into something that would be beyond my skills!

skirt1

I added in one pocket rather than two (I prefer the asymmetrical look), and found some fantastic daisy trim that I hoped would work around the edge of the pocket. When the package arrived with the fabric and trim, the trim was a little larger than I had thought, and would overpower the pocket if I used it all the way around!

As luck would have it, I came across a flower button in the local sewing shop, which was a perfect match on size for the trim. But just sewing on a button wouldn’t be enough for me…. no, I had to make a working button, which would mean tackling my first ever buttonhole.

pocket

Thankfully my sewing machine has an automatic buttonhole setting, so after a quick practise, the final hole came out perfectly! Ok, it could’ve probably started about a centimetre lower down so it didn’t overlap the top stitches, but it works!

I stitched the trim with a single line across the centre, and caught it into the pocket stitches on the sides just to help it stay attached when the skirt goes in the wash.

And just to prove that the buttonhole works:pocket-montage

 


 

This skirt is part of the Simplicity Blogger Challenge. I was sent the pattern for free, as part of the contest entry. There are no affiliate link in this post.

 

A Strange Coincidence

A few weeks ago, I purchased a really nice looking duvet cover from Primark for 9 pounds. I figured that it’d give me about 2 metres of fabric from each side, so that’s about 2.25 per metre – not quite as good a bargain as the dress duvet cover, but still better than I could get for the fabric itself. I was thinking it might become a side-zipped top or possibly a button-up shirt…. but then I came across this:

CC Jacket

Source: CC

In a strange coincidence, this lined blazer from CC has an almost identical pattern to the fabric that duvet cover was made out of! So, there was no other option but to start making a jacket from it 😀

In the current issue (Feb – March) of Make it Today, they had a free gift of three paper pattern packs, which included New Look pattern 6231 – two jacket options, a skirt and a pair of trousers. Although the trousers look the easiest to make, my legs aren’t really designed for tapered close-fitting trousers, so it had to be the jacket.

It’s not an identical style to the CC one; this has a peplum instead of the vent flap, and isn’t lined, but it should work really well with the fabric 🙂

6231_env_front

So far I’ve got the front and back done, but a slight problem with the iron means that I’ve had to delay working on the collar until I can get the interfacing to stick to the fabric.

And speaking of Simplicity New Look patterns, have you seen their blogger challenge?