Sunday, 25 November 2012

Liberty print jacket - Part 3

I've been busy again, this time altering my jacket.  It needed a few centimetres taking off each of the back seams to allow for my narrow back.  I won't post the photos of this as it was quite simple to do.

When I tried the jacket on, my dress making teacher suggested that it could do with some shoulder pads.    Now I thought, why not embrace the 1980s in a SUBTLE way!  

So, on I went to make them!

Here's my little guide to refresh my own memory:

  • Pin piece 1 (front) and 3 (back) together at shoulder seam, overlapping them by 3cm.
  • Trace the outline of the pattern pieces at the shoulder point and the neck point.  Mark 1.5cm into the 3cm overlap at both the shoulder point and neck point.  
  • Join 1.5cm marks with a broken line, put balance marks at the 1.5cm marks.
  • Draw the shoulder pad shape.  You want a curve on the front piece and a point on the back piece and for this pattern, it should be approximately 10cm down into the front and a little longer into the back. You want the peak of the curve to be at least 2cm from the front of the jacket (this is after the front seam has been taken into account).  

  • Once you have drawn the shape, cut it out and then cut 2 of the shape out of sew-in interfacing (remembering the balance marks at the 1.5cm points on both sides).  These are the top pair of shoulder pads.
  • You will also need an under pair of shoulder pads.  To make these, draw the shape again on your pattern piece, this time 6mm under the shape and parallel to the first shape.  Then place the pattern piece underneath some tissue paper and trace the smaller shape off the pattern.  Cut the smaller pattern out of the tissue paper.  Use this pattern to cut 2 of the shape out of sew-in interfacing (remembering the balance marks at the 1.5cm points on both sides).

  • You will also need some wadding to fill the shoulder pads with.  I already had my wadding and therefore can't remember the exact weight of it.  It is quite a thin one which I think is a safer option because you can always layer more pieces of wadding if you want more volume.  To cut the wadding, you need to follow the same step in number 6 i.e. the wadding has to be 6mm smaller along the curve than the under pair of shoulder pads.  If decided that 1 layer of wadding was enough for me, but if you did layer the wadding, you would have to cut the next layer 6mm smaller on the curve than the first layer of wadding.  
  • Lay the layers out - top pair on the bottom, then wadding, then under pair on top.  Pin. 
  • Turn the whole stack of layers over so that you are working with the top pair of shoulder pads facing you.  Turn the pins around so that they are on the top pair of shoulder pads.
  • You want to stitch the layers together by starting with a column of stitches approx 2cm in from the shoulder point edge (the first 1.5cm from this edge is the seam allowance so you do not want to stitch in this area).  The stitches need to be a small from the left to the right and the spacing needs to be long and diagonal.  As you stitch, you want to curve the layers with your index finger and the two fingers next to it placed vertically underneath the layers.  The needle should enter the layers where your index finger is.  This method of stitching will help the shoulder pads to maintain a curve.
  • Stitch a second row approximately 2cm from the first row.  
  • Stitch a third row by following the curve of the neck edge, making sure you catch all of the layers.  


And from the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate this weekend, I bought two buttons which I think will match the jacket.  I'll see which one looks better when it's time to attach the button.  

So now, it's onto the sleeves and then bringing it all together!  Nearly there...

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Liberty print jacket - Part 2

Well, I've been on a roll this weekend!

Firstly, I've sewn the front and side front together and then added the welts.  This is my fist encounter with fake pockets and I think they look quite good!
From this...

To this...

Next it was onto the back pieces...

And then joining the front to the back...

I even made a start on the lining!

This is the front facing joined to the side lining
Back lining

And then I decided that it was time to come out of hibernation and put the sewing down for a bit!  There isn't much more I can do before having the jacket fitted.  I need to try it on and make any alterations before inserting the sleeves and completing the lining.  Then it will be a case of joining it all together and adding the collar.  

I still need to find a nice button, which is proving difficult.  I might wait until the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate in a few weeks to find the perfect one.  

But I'm excited with my progress as I want to get on with making a dress for Christmas! 

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Onto the next...Liberty print jacket - Part 1

So my next project is New Look pattern 6013, which I bought in Lancaster earlier this year.  I've previously blogged about my choice of Liberty Fabric for this project in April's post, 'Liberty Loveliness'.  I've settled on view A which I think will make a lovely casual jacket and get me out of my trusted Ted Baker woollen cardigan, which admittedly has seen better days!

As far as pattern pieces go, I'm beginning to be a bit more organised with them.  Once I've cut them out of the fashion fabric I've started to organise the fabric pieces on the table with their corresponding tissue piece on top so that it's easy to identify the different pieces.  

This pattern calls for a lightweight fusible interfacing.  However, since discussing the construction techniques with my dress making teacher, we decided on a combination of medium and lightweight woven interfacing.  

I bought my woven interfacing from  This was my fist purchase from the website and considering woven interfacing is not cheap, I was unimpressed to find that the lightwight one had the selvage cut off on one side and the medium one had no selvage on either side!  So to try and get the grain line straight was a very difficult task.  Be warned if you buy these products from Jaycotts, I certainly won't be doing so again!

So this is what I cut for each of the numbered pattern pieces:

  1. 2 in lightweight (for jacket); 2 in medium (for facing);
  2. Medium for:  6.5cm deep, from 2.5cm above hem; piece to support welts; above line (near underarm);
  3. Medium for:  6.5cm deep, from 2.5cm above hem and upper back;
  4. Medim for:  6.5cm deep, from 2.5cm above hem and upper back;
  5. 1 in medium (as undercollar); 1 in lightweight (as collar);
  6. none
  7. 2 in medium;
  8. Medium for 6.5cm deep, from 1inch above hem.  

When I first read the pattern instructions I found myself disappointed that the jacket wasn't lined.  My dress making teacher has since told me that we can line the jacket quite easily.  She advised me to cut pattern pieces 2 (side front); 4 (side back), 3 (back) and 8 (sleeve) from my contrasting lining fabric.  For piece 3, I placed the pattern piece 2.5cm from the fold of the fabric.  This will prevent the back lining from ripping as it will be 2.5cm wider that the back piece of the jacket.

There was no need to cut piece 1 (front) or 5 (collar) as both have a facing in the fashion fabric.  And for obvious reasons pieces 6 (loop) and 7 (welt) do not need to be lined.

Now it's time to begin sewing!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Out with one project...

I'm a typical stitcher in that I have far too many projects on the go!  I've finally sat down to try and finish some of them this week.

I bought this pattern and 'Natural White' wool from the lovely people at Purl when I visited the Knitting and Stitching show last year.  

If you've never heard of Purl Alpaca Designs before you should really try their website out, they have some gorgeous woollen clothing designs for the more confident knitter. 

Having just browsed their website, I'm excited to learn that they will be exhibiting at the show again this year, which I will be attending in the beautiful town of Harrogate.

You can see the dates and venues for the Knitting and Stitching show here:  
Based in West Midlands, B76 1NX

Previously I'd made the turban, which just left the wrist warmers to be made and a few embellishments to be added.  The buttons are from The Button Lady (who unfortunately doesn't have a website, but you can also find her at the Knitting and Stitching show this year)!  

Secondly, there is my much loved, 'KISS' cushion designed by Emily Peacock Perhaps one of her most well known designs (along with its counterpart 'HUG'), this project is a joy to stitch despite being a more long term project that I usually embark on.  I think in total I've had this tapestry under way for 2 years.  It could definitely be completed within a shorter time frame than this, however I disagree with the time estimate from which allows a tiny 60 hours for completion.  I love this design so much that I really didn't want to get bored of it, by trying to rush it.

Onto my progress!  Several weeks ago I finished the main body of the lettering.  This week I've began work on the top and bottom borders.  After that it's a case of filling in the cream background and transforming into a cushion worthy of a £375 price tag (see retail price of finished cushion at  

Has anyone else made this cushion or one of Emily Peacock's other designs?  I'm always curious to see other people's photos!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

I love prizes!

The article above is published in September's Sew magazine.  £50 is such a good prize!

And the article opposite is in 
September's Sew Today!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


Slightly oversized on me!

It has become a bit of a custom that I make my boyfriend a handmade gift each year on his birthday.  It all started with him requesting I make a cross stitch of a 'Dictionary of Love' which appeared in Cross Stitcher a few years back now.  I made that design into a bolster cushion which has come in handy.  Last year it was a graduation cross stitch designed especially for him by Emily Peacock.  It is beautiful and bright, Emily is my favourite designer.

Onto this year...!  I thought I'd put my new dressmaking skills into practice and make him a shirt.  However, seems as though I want this to be a surprise, I would have had great difficulty measuring him in his sleep!

So I've settled on a tie instead.  It's made using Liberty fabric, bought from Standfast and Barracks (see Liberty Loveliness post from April 2012).  I've used a lightweight interfacing to stiffen the fabric and a thin (100%) wool, bought from Leon's (see I do like a fabric shop... post from March 2012). One metre of each of these fabrics is more than enough to make a standard 57 inch long tie.

On the internet I have found instructions for making a tie from 4 different websites.  All of them (except for the last one in the list) had a link to a pattern you can download and print off:

Despite all of these patterns, it was horrible trying to get a workable pattern and took an entire day.  The pattern from Puking Pastilles is wider than a usual tie, so I didn't want to use that.  See Kate Sew is a nice pattern I'm sure, but it's for a skinny tie and I was after a traditional pointy one.  The pattern that I tried to use from the Purl Bee simply doesn't line up when you print, cut and selotape it together as you can see from my practice run on yellow fabric.  

So to get my pattern in the end I had to cut open a tie of my Dad's and use that to measure angles, length etc.  Then I drew the pattern with a ruler and set square onto thin card and cut it out.


For the construction I used the instructions from David Hober and The Purl Bee.  Followed in isolation, both sets of instructions are disappointing.  Combine them together, and it is possible to make a satisfactory tie.

I can tell that David Hober ties are high quality but his instructions are a very brief overview and they need a leap of imagination together with trial and error, to bring them to life.  I liked the use of 6 pattern pieces which I cut out on the bias of the fabric and then backed with iron on interfacing.

6 pattern pieces, cut out of fabric and backed with iron on interfacing

I also liked his method for tipping the tie.  I drew a line 1/4 inch in from each edge of the tip of the tie.  I then drew another line 1/4 inch in from the first line.  I drew a horizontal line where the inner lines meet.  This is where the tip of the tie will be.  I then continued to follow David Hober's instructions to complete the tip. 

Purl Bee tipped the tie in a way which did not appeal to me at all and their instructions lacked some fundamentals, such as a keeper for the short end of the tie.  I found the instructions useful for the positioning of the pattern pieces to sew them together and the method for closing the tie.

I encountered even more difficulties when it came to lining the tie.  I had to make another pattern for the lining and again, there was a fair amount of trial and error involved.  Closing the tie with an invisible stitch felt like a walk in the park compared to the rest of the process. 

Thankfully all of this hard work paid off as my boyfriend loved the tie.  However...if you were to ask me if I would make a tie again, it would be a definite NO, unless I had a pattern off the internet which lined up perfectly and required no adaptation.  Or unless I had software to make my own pattern without having to rely on GCSE protractor skills.  So be warned if you are thinking of making a tie pattern, it's definitely not a job for the impatient.  

Has anyone else had difficulties making a tie?  Please do share your comments and photos...

Monday, 25 June 2012

Time to customise...

Today I finally settled down to customise a t-shirt which belongs to my brother's girlfriend (it had been in the 'to do' pile for too long)!  

It started out as a really simple vest style top.  

For a looser fit I was asked to add black lace panels to either side.  To do this, I first made a pattern piece by marking my size requirements (+seam allowances) onto tracing paper using a ruler and set square.  I then cut out the pattern piece and pinned to my fabric in the usual way.  

The next step was to overlock the four sides of each lace piece.  I then turned over the seam allowances on the top and bottom and stitched into place.  

I opened up each side of the t-shirt using a seam ripper.  I pinned and tacked the lace pieces into place.  The lace has a bit of stretch in it so it was not the easiest fabric to work with.  I finished by machine stitching into place and removing the tacking.  



I love the lace effect, I think I will have to re-create this simple technique again but this time on something I get to keep!  Has anyone else customised using lace?  Feel free to share a link to your blog for me to nosy at!  

Friday, 22 June 2012

Duchess - Part 2

Well here it is, the finished product!

I was still finishing this off yesterday just before my ball.  I managed to get it done in time with just a little bit of stressing out.  

I machine gathered the skirt at first but it looked awful so I unpicked it all and hand gathered instead.  

This was my first attempt at an invisible zip.  I love the special foot for the machine and I found it quite straightforward to do.  

I would love to hear what you think.  Has anyone else made McCall's M6508?  I would love to see some other versions of this pattern!

Cost of materials:
2.5m satin @ £9.95 per metre = £24.88
3m lining @ £2 per metre =        £6
Pattern M6508 =                         £4.13
16'' invisible zip =                         £3
Thread @1.55 per reel =              £3.10

Total =                                          £41.11

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Duchess - Part 1

I thought I would share my progress on my next dress which I have called 'Duchess', simply because it is made of a duchess satin.  Unfortunately, no matter how many different settings I try, the camera does not do justice to the gorgeous emerald green of the satin!  So just imagine a nicer colour that how it actually appears!

I am using McCall's pattern M6508 which is VERY strange. Basically it has instructions for 11 different pieces (different straps, bodices and skirts) and you pick the combination you want to make.  So as you can imagine the pattern is difficult to follow.  Like all commercial patterns anyway, it misses out key explanations and assumes a level of knowledge which a novice just does not have.  I am slowly getting over the frustration of this!

So, onto my progress.  I opted for one shoulder bodice with ruffle and short gathered skirt.  I plan on wearing it to my College of Law leavers ball in July.  Hence why I am rapidly trying to progress with it! 

I have made the main part of the front bodice and my next step is to press open all of the seams.  I am waiting for my tailor's ham to arrive in the post though (hence the bumpy seams in the photo).

I still have the one shoulder strap to finish and the side back pieces.  Each pattern piece (except the skirt) is underlined with a layer of lining and the dress is fully lined.  So far the most difficult part to make has been the ruffle.  Sewing it into the seam was a nightmare due to the poor instructions.  Anyway I finally did master it!

This is the underlining.  The lining will sit on top to hide all the seams. 


Since my last post (where I showed you my completed English Rose dress) I have been on a short break to York which I thought was the perfect occasion to wear it.  The sun was shining and I received some lovely comments from one or two strangers which was very flattering.  York has a little 'Crafter's Trail' around the craft and haberdashery stores which was lovely to follow on their nice map/pamphlet. 

Also I am very excited to report my latest investment, a Bernina 700D overlocker!  I say my was a birthday present off my Mum.  It runs extremely smoothly and I am very happy with it.  With a sewing machine and overlocker I needed somewhere for them to live so I invested in a cast iron Singer table base with added table top.  My dad drove to Bradford to pick it up with me (I think I still owe him for that)! 

Anyway, I am very happy to occupy a small corner of our house for my dressmaking!

The man who restored the base painted gold detailing on the Singer name and on the side decorations also.