Sunday, 28 October 2018

Helen's Closet - Winslow Culottes

After the success of my Tania Culottes, I was keen to give the Helen's Closet Winslow Culottes a try. 

I've seen some lovely versions, and I think the first pair I saw were these by Leigh.  But the pair that make me click on "buy" was this amazing pair by Rebecca.

My fabric is some black medium weight crepe from The Textile Centre, and these are simplicity itself to make.  There are four pattern pieces - front, back, pockets, waistband; and they zip up the centre back with an invisible zip.

There are four lengths on the pattern - shorts, knee, calf and ankle; and this is where I had my stupid head on!  The instructions give the finished garment lengths, which for calf length was 32".  Now, because these are trousers, I thought it was the inside leg length.  Turned out it was the length from the waistband to the hem.  The big clue was the 40" measurement for the ankle length, but clearly my brain didn't register that nobody has a 40" inside leg...

Soooo, I cut the calf length, thinking "I'm small, that gives me a good hem to work with",  and then realised that the legs looked a bit short.  I think I've managed to get away with it by overlocking the bottom edge, and turning it in for the hem, so my hem is about 1/4".

They came together really quickly, and the instructions are excellent and very easy to follow.  I love that they're trousers, but look like a maxi skirt, and the pleats at the waist look fabulous.  I think I need another pair in red, but will cut them a bit longer!  

I also made this blouse, which is self-drafted (I've made it before here).  It's some cotton lawn left over from this dress, and I added a little bit of elastic to the sleeve hems.  


When I was taking my photos, my cat Luke decided to photobomb me.  Apparently I should have been getting him his dinner instead of taking photos...



Have a great week!


Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Vogue 7975 jacket: 2018 Make Nine

This is my final item for my 2018 Make Nine challenge (hooray!!), and, boy, was it an epic!

I had grand plans for taking loads of progress photos, but it was such an involved project, that I only took a few, then just forgot.  The pattern is Vogue 7975 which is a Chanel style jacket, and I made it using the Craftsy "The Iconic Tweed Jacket" class.

My main fabric is an ebay purchase, and is a wool boucle.  I can't remember exactly how much it was, but I think it was about £36 for 3 metres, so it was total bargain!  I had looked at the boucles on the Linton Tweeds website (I think I read somewhere that they supply to Chanel), but their fabrics had a lot of polyester in them.  I was concerned that it might fray a bit, and wanted something with a wool content for less fraying to make life easier.  It still frayed all over the place though.  Seriously - I had to brush the floor up every time I finished...

My lining fabric is a faux silk polyester from the sale rail in Sew N Sew in Belfast.  It was £9 for 2 metres, and is red on one side and silver on the other.  Here's a close up of the main fabric, and you can see that it has a little coloured thread through out it.

I made a size 12, but really could have done with a size 10 for the shoulders.  It's one of those patterns were the smallest envelope sizes are 6-8-10, then the next one is 12-14-16, so I couldn't blend between the sizes.  And me, being me, couldn't leave the pattern as is it, and added a sleeve vent.

A great thing on the pattern though was the "Petite Lines" which are in addition to the lengthen shorted lines.  These were brilliant, and in my head Vogue added them for me (don't burst my bubble!), because shortening along these lines made my jacket the perfect length.

This is my traced under-sleeve, and the lengthen/shorten double line is marked L/S (because I was too lazy to write out lengthen/shorten...).  The Petite lines are the two lines above it marked Petite and Foldline.  I folded them up to match, and job done.

The black edge lines are the cut lines on the pattern, and the red lines are my cut lines as the Craftsy class has you use a 1 inch seam allowance to allow for the fraying fabric.

Not going to lie - there is a lot of hand sewing in this jacket!  And it didn't help that I decided to underline my boucle; for that I used some lemon viscose voile from The Textile Centre.  Then all the outside edges are stablised - the Craftsy class uses the selvedge edge of silk organza, but I used some of the selvedge from the leftovers from my Liberty silk dress, and then some light blue seam binding.

These are the only progress photos I took, and you can see the lemon underlining, and the selvedge/seam binding all hand sewn on.  The hems, front edge and neckline are also thread-traced to mark them.

Next the front and back jacket side pieces are machine sewed to their corresponding pieces, and after this I deviated a bit from the Craftsy class.  The class then has you machine the lining front and backs in the same way before quilting them to the main fabric.


I didn't do this because I wanted the option to be able to adjust the princess seams at the shoulders.  So I quilted the lining pieces to the main pieces without attaching any of the lining pieces together.    Then I constructed the sleeves (I'll talk about this in a minute), hand sewed the side seam lining pieces together as on the class, and sewed in the sleeves.

As predicted, I needed to shorten the shoulder seams and did this by taking in the princess seams at the shoulders, which worked perfectly.  Then I hand sewed all the lining seams together.

The sleeves are a two-piece sleeve, and are constructed by firstly sewing the longer seam on the main fabric and the lining.  They are then quilted together, and the shorter seam is machine sewn on the main fabric.  Finally the lining seam is hand sewn together.  I think the Chanel way to insert the sleeves is to hand sew them in, but I don't trust my hand sewing to be that sturdy; so I machined them in as on the class.

The main fabric hems are then hand sewn, and the outside edges of the lining is folded in on itself and sewn to the jacket.  I stupidly got a bit scissor-happy with clipping into the seam allowance at the neckline, and cut too close to the thread-traced fold over line.  So I hand sewed some black velvet ribbon along the inside of the neckline, and we're calling it a design feature!

The last thing is to construct and attach the pockets, and add the trim.  I used 2 cm wide wide stripes of my main fabric, which were cut on the straight grain, and then zigzag stitched down the middle.  This made it really easy to fray the edges, and the middle didn't fall apart.  I have to thank local sewing pal Jenny for that top tip!  And finally, I sewed the braiding on top, and the chain on the hem.



This jacket took me about two months to make, working on it off and on, and I LOVE how it has turned out.  As much as I don't mind hand sewing, I can't under-estimate just how much of it there is in this jacket!  If hand sewing isn't your thing, then this pattern isn't for you.

And, as already mentioned, this is my final make for my 2018 Make Nine.  This is the first time I've taken part in the Make Nine, and I've loved it because it's encouraged me to make some of the things that I've been wanting to make for ages.  I will definately be joining in again next year if it's running, and am already working on my list.

Congratulations if you've got to the end, because I didn't realise I had so much to say about this!


Sunday, 23 September 2018

Kielo Wrap Dresses

This is the Named Kielo Wrap Dress, which probably needs no introduction as it's so popular, and I have finally gotten around to making two versions of it. 

I love this dress, but it was not without it's challenges - the first being the lack of lengthen/shorten lines.  This drives me crackers, and I think it's just lazy pattern drafting. It is drafted for a height of 5ft 8 inches - I'm nowhere close to that height, and sew because I find it so difficult to buy things that fit.  I can't be alone in this, so any help with pattern alterations is gratefully received.

I ended up shortening the bodice above the top of the bust darts, and also between the waist and knee.  The instructions are clear, but the finish on the neckline and armhole is "press and turn under", which isn't the neatest.


A bit of googling showed that a lot of people felt the same, and added a neck/armhole band. After a lot of faffing around, I ended up doing this on my first jersey fabric version.  I marked and measured the stitching line on my pattern, and added a seam allowance.  Then took off 20%, and that did the trick for the length of the bands.  The width of each band is 4 cm, which gives a 1 cm band. 

That said, I don't think my fabric helped.  It's a very cheap a cheerful viscose jersey from ebay, which was £3.20 a metre.  It's a bit lightweight, so needs a slip underneath.

Even though the pattern is for a knit fabric, I've seen plenty  of woven fabric versions, and was keen to try this myself.  It seems that most people just went up a size for wovens, but I was a concerned that it might not fit across the shoulders and upper chest.

So I mashed the pattern with my woven block and, unbelievably, it worked!  My fabric is again some cheap and cheerful black lightweight crepe from The Textile Centre, which doesn't press too well.  The neck and armholes are faced with bias tape.


I forgot to take into account the lack of stretch for the waist ties, and will lengthened them if I make another woven version. Also, I originally sewed the spilt to the length on the pattern but due to the non-stretch fabric, it was a bit tricky to walk in, so I ended up making the split two inches longer.

Turns out I don't love these dresses as much as I thought I would, but I like them, and am wearing them.  I think, ultimately, the meh is down to the not so great fabric.  So I'll maybe try it again in a lovely fabric, as see how I get on.

Have a great week,


Saturday, 1 September 2018

Liberty Silk Dress

I think I bought this silk about a year and a half ago, it's been staring at me from my stash ever since.

It's Liberty silk, and the print is called Sophie Jane Belgravia Silk Satin (this is a different colour to mine).  Liberty Silk is pretty pricey fabric - £49.95 per metre, but I got this for £24.95 a metre from the Liberty website; which still isn't exactly cheap.

I'd ordered 1 metre with the plan to make a top, but got 1.25 metres.  It's 134cm wide, and, with some Olympic standard pattern tetrising, I managed to squeeze a dress out of it!  The front facing was cut from some black cotton lawn - but, come on, a dress from 125cm of a directional print?!  Yey me!!

The bodice back and back facing have a centre back seam.
The reason it took so long to use this fabric was because I was frankly terrified of it!  But, you know what, it wasn't that difficult to handle - I've worked with trickier vicoses.  Here are the things I did to help make it easier to work with:
  • Stablised the fabric with spray starch before cutting.  I'm a big fan of spray starch for slippery fabrics, and use the Dylon spray starch that you can buy in Tescos.
  • Used my walking foot on my machine.  In fairness, I pretty much use this foot all the time.
  • Used silk pins and triangle tailors chalk.  I found the Clover roller chalk pen dragged a bit on the fabric.
  • Used tissue paper under the fabric at the start of each seam.  This helped to start of each row of stitching, and is easy to tear away.

The pattern is self-drafted, I've already made it here, and I used princess seams to shape the bodice instead of pleats.  The bodice has self-fabric buttons to the waist, and it has an A-line skirt and side zip.  I also added the capped sleeves from my Anna Sui dress.


One thing I had trouble with was how to overlock the seams.  I ended up doing some seams as French seams, but wish I'd done as many as I could this way.  I used a 3 thread stitch on my overlocker, but if anybody has any silk overlocking tips, please let me know.  Thanks!!

I'm delighted with how this dress turned out, and I think I'll be able to were it in the autumn and winter with tights and boots.


Have a great weekend,