Finished Item

Sew Over It Alex Shirtdress

Howdy folks! I actually have a finished garment post! Gasp!

My lack of proper blogging over the last couple of years means that I have a massive backlog of finished projects to share.

I asked on Instagram last week if people would like me to blog about the finished garments that I haven’t done a proper blog photo shoot of but have a couple of photos of from Outfit of the Day type photos. And people mostly said yes so I’m going to start trying to get through my backlog.

Though today’s post actually has proper photos that I took ages ago but didn’t do anything with. You can tell how old the photos are from how long my hair is. I think I’ve chopped it all off twice since then!

Please excuse the fact that the dress is wrinkled to hell and back. These photos were taken after a day at work and this fabric is very wrinkle prone. You expect less wrinkling from polyester!

I originally bought this fabric to make an epic circle maxi skirt to wear to a wedding but I didn’t check the width and it was too narrow. So I made a pair of Helen’s Closet Winslow culottes palazzo pants instead. They turned out to be perfect for the wedding and meant I had lots of fabric left over. Enter Alex.

I absolutely love the colour of this fabric. It’s my dream green. Green is my favourite colour and it’s surprisingly difficult to find green fabric I like.

I made this dress such a long time ago – 2017 I think – that it’s hard to remember anything useful to say. Apart from the sizing stuff, which is all down the bottom of the post. I seem to remember that the fabric was a bit of a nightmare. It didn’t press well and it frays as soon as you look at it. I struggled to get my sewing machine tension right too.

I used French seams throughout and I bias faced the hemline with the same fabric as the dress.

I did make a self fabric tie but I don’t ever seem to wear it with it. I usually pair it with this tan belt or a silver one I have. I have thought about wearing it unbelted but it’s just a little too sack like. Here it is unbelted:

This photo also highlights the drag lines I get from my bust to my hips. I get these a lot and if after nearly six years of sewing I still don’t fully understand why or what I need to do to fix them. I feel like it means I need a dart but I’m not sure the best way to go about adding one.

In this blog post about the Archer shirt, Siobhan mentions that she lengthened the whole centre front by the amount she was taking out of the side seam with the dart. That makes sense to me and means that you don’t have to faff about shortening the back. So I might give that a go before making this again or the next time I spot the problem.

The details

Pattern: Alex shirtdress from the Sew Over It City Break eBook

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 40

A0 file included? Yes

Measurements: Somewhere around 38.5″ – 31.5″ – 41.5″ at time of photos

Size made: 10 (this is 2 sizes down from the suggested size)

Size range: Bust 33″- 45″, Waist 26″-38″, Hip 36″-48″ (Though there is 8″ ease at the bust, 17″ at the waist and 10″ at the hips so you may be okay if you’re just out of the size range.)

Alterations

Shortened 2″ around waist and 4″ on skirt part so 6″ in total.

Fabric used

Poly crepe from Minerva Crafts. I don’t know how much sorry because I cut most pieces from the offcuts from my palazzo pants rather than actual yardage (I know we buy fabric in metres here but but metreage isn’t a word and meterage means something else, plus yardage just sounds better anyway)

Another version?

Maybe. I have a New Look shirt dress pattern (6449) I’d like to try first.

Any changes next time?

I’d do what I mentioned about adding a bust dart. I’d add a bit of the length back to the skirt as it’s a wee bit skimpy without tights or leggings. There’s probably something to be done around the shoulders and back to improve the fit too.

Any tips or advice 

There was an error with the sleeve tab in the version of the pattern I used but I downloaded the copyshop versions of the patterns when they released them and it had been fixed in that version. So if you downloaded the pattern as soon as the eBook came out like I did I’d download the pattern again. I think half of the tab had been left off.

Final Thoughts

I really love this dress in theory. It’s a lovely colour, it’s super versatile as I can wear it as a top as well as as a dress.

This photo makes me miss that hair colour.

But sadly the fabric makes it a little difficult to wear. It’s thin so it’s better suited to warmer weather but it’s also polyester so the lack of breathability means it not the nicest to wear when it’s warm. That means it doesn’t get worn as often as I’d like.

I still consider it a successful project but I think I need to keep my eyes peeled for a better fabric match.

True Bias Lander pants

After me saying in my Flint trousers post that I don’t think I would ever get on board the cropped wide leg trouser train I only blummin’ went and made a pair!

Of course I’ve never actually worn them…

I went to Green Man Festival in August and the weather forecast was a little bit shonky so I got myself in a tizz about what I’d wear. So I made these. My thinking was that they’d be long enough to keep me warm but short enough that they didn’t drag on wet grass/mud.

Well it turned out that we had pretty glorious weather and they stayed in my backpack the whole weekend. Oh well.

 True Bias Lander pants and ogden cami

I have no idea how to wear them. All of my shoes feel wrong and all my tops look wrong – unless they’re tucked in, which I don’t really feel comfortable with as it makes me feel all belly.

I made this pair a bit tighter than my shorts version. I haven’t blogged about them but you can see them in this post.

back of my lander pants

The back view looks a smidge like my bum is eating the trousers so I could probably do with scooping out the back crotch curve slightly. There’s also a little horizontal fold of fabric just under the waistband so I need to shorten the rise slightly at centre back. I’m not sure what I need to do about all those diagonal lines/folds/droops either. I’m not sure if it’s a bum issue or a knock knee issue. Or something else entirely.

lander pants side view

Oh, these don’t have any pockets on them. They were a last minute thing the day before Green Man so I decided to leave them off to save time, with a view to going back and adding the back pockets later. 

lander pants and flannel shirt

The details

Pattern: True Bias Lander pants

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 38

A0 file included? Yes

How’s the PDF?
Fine. I’d already made the shorts so I only printed the leg parts as I already had all the other bits. 

Measurements: Waist 31.5″ – High hip  40″ – Low hip (bum) 41″

Size made: I started with a 12 but I don’t think they’re a good reflection of the size 12 as I made quite a few changes (listed below).

Alterations:

  • Added 1/4″ to the front inner thigh from the crotch point tapering to nothing by about mid thigh
  • Took the centre back in by about 1/4″ (I used the width of my presser foot, which isn’t quite 1/4″)
  • I also took the side seams in by the width of my presser foot tapering out to nothing a bit before my knee
  • Used a contoured waistband
  • Shortened them a bit but I can’t remember how much sorry. It was a bit more than I needed though as I ended up taking a smaller hem.

Fabric used: 1.4m of cotton twill left over from my Deer and Doe Anemone skirt, making this a #sewingleftovers project.

Another version?

I don’t know. I have some black denim I had been thinking about making a full length pair out of but I really don’t know what tops I have that would go with the silhouette. 

Any changes next time?

I need to work on the fit a bit more. Not sure of the specifics but there is definitely some tweaking to be done.

Final Thoughts

This was probably a bit of a pointless make really as I just don’t know if I’ll ever wear them.

Grainline Archer shirt

grainline archer shirt

This shirt has been a long time in the making (I started it in March) and I made ALL the mistakes during sewing it so the finished product is rather shonky. Luckily, shonkiness doesn’t stop me wearing things I’ve made – though I do have a tendency to point out the flaws to people who wouldn’t even notice.

So, what went wrong?

It was all going quite well until I got to the sleeves. I’d sewn the sleeve placket binding thingies and was pinning the sleeves to the armholes when I realised that I had pressed one of the bindings wrong. Instead of pressing them both to the inside I’d pressed one to the outside because the right and wrong side are really difficult to tell apart. There’s a little bit of stitching on the top of the binding on the inside to keep it in place so I put the shirt aside to unpick and redo that. Then it got warm so the shirt waited.

I picked it up again as the warm weather started to die down, fixed the placket and cracked on with setting the sleeves. I pinned the sleeves in place to sew and then realised* that I’d pinned them wrong side to right side. So I unpinned, repinned, sewed them both, overlocked them both and topstitched them both. Only then did I notice that my sleeve seams were on the outside.

Facepalm gif

*I now think that I hadn’t pinned them wrong the first time at all and just got myself mixed up because the side with the undercollar is actually the right side of the shirt.

It got put aside again for a bit because I was too frustrated to even attempt to fix it. I eventually decided on an – imperfect – fix and got to work unpicking. I removed the topstitching then sewed a line of stitching 1/4″ away from the original seam line to use as the first pass of a french seam. I unpicked the bits of overlocking that were on the wrong side of that stitching and then trimmed the seam down, unpicked the original seam and sewed a french seam.

This did mean that my sleeves are wrong side out (and I had to twizzle my sleeve plackets – again) but I don’t care. I don’t think it’s noticeable and this was only supposed to be a wearable toile anyway.

Grainline Archer button up shirt

Now I’ve shared my woes I suppose I should go back to the beginning. I find the shoulder on Grainline patterns really wide so I measured the shoulder on the Archer before cutting it out and compared it to my favourite oversized shirts from H&M. It was a full inch wider so I did a stonking big narrow shoulder shoulder adjustment.

I cut everything out on a single layer and I can honestly say I HATE cutting out plaid/check/tartan/whatever. I cut a bunch of pieces on the bias because I like the way it looks (and it avoids having to pattern match).

I’m holding the hem out like that because it seems to get all hitched up on my bum really easily. I thought there was more ease at the hip than this or I would have graded out. I’ve just checked the finished measurements and there are 2.5″ ease, which explains it a bit.

The sleeves and cuffs are both bigger than I like in a shirt. I actually moved the cuff button over by quite a bit because in the right place the cuff is way too big – it would probably fit around my, not insubstantial, upper arm. It’s a bit too wide for my preferences too. I looked at my RTW shirts and they’re a good 1/2″ or more narrower.

The buttons are recycled from an old shirt of the manfriend’s and I sewed them on BY MACHINE! Yes that needed to be shouted. I’d seen people rave about sewing buttons on by machine and I never trust my handsewn buttons – it’s not my strength – so I invested in a button sewing foot. I’m never looking back. It’s excellent. A bit nerve wracking at first, making sure that you’ve got the stitch width right. But I just used the handwheel until I was certain everything was lined up right.

I’ve sewn things with collars before but this was my first proper collar, with a collar stand. It went okay but I definitely need more practice. One side of the collar stand is a much better shape than the other… 

The details

Pattern: Grainline Archer shirt

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 46 (that’s for two views so it would be less if you wanted to figure out which pages to print for the view you wanted to make. I couldn’t be bothered and just printed the lot.)

Easy to put together?

I don’t know if I did something wrong when I was printing but it didn’t have a border and I’m sure previous Grainline patterns I’ve sewn have had a border box. I found it made it really difficult when trimming the pages and to know if I was lining things up correctly when assembling.

A0 file included?

Yes. (2 pages)

Measurements: Bust 39″ – Waist: 31″ – Hips 41″

Size made: 12

Alterations:

  • Narrowed the shoulder by 1″
  • Shortened the sleeve by 2″
  • Sewed an inverted box pleat on the back instead of a box pleat – I just prefer the way they look
  • Left the pockets off – but I may still add one

Fabric used: 1.75m cotton cranleigh tartan flannel from Plush Addict.

Another version?

Yes, I think so. 

Any changes next time?

Quite a few. I’ll pinch the tower placket from another pattern (Deer and Doe Melilot or Sewaholic Granville) and use that instead of the bound placket. I’ll slim the sleeves down, probably by as much as 2″. I’m also going to shorten and narrow the cuff .

The fit is possibly a little too boxy for what I wanted so I might add some curve at the waist. Though I’ll be adding some more room at the hip so maybe I’ll just add that first and see if that visually balances things out a bit. I can always take the waist in during sewing if I think it needs it.

I’m basically trying to recreate my favourite H&M shirts so I’m going to have a look at them and see what changes I need to make it more like them.

I think I’ll do a bias bound hem next time too. Oh and the interfacing I used was too heavy so I’ll use a much lighter one next time. If I interface at all as I don’t think the H&M shirts are interfaced.

Listing all the changes I want to make does make me think about whether I should just use a different pattern. Manju shared her Simpicity 8014 shirts recently and I really like the look of the fit on her so I might think about giving that a try.

Resources/tips I used: 

I’d always seen people rave about this collar insertion method so I didn’t even bother trying the method from the instructions.

I used pritt stick for sticking the inner collar stand down while I sewed it. It washes out and I didn’t find it gummed up my needle or anything. I’d tried fabric glue before and didn’t find it very sticky so when I saw Kelli from True Bias saying that she uses a normal washable glue stick I thought that was a great idea.

There are also some great tips in this post on Sarah’s blog. I saw this post after I’d already sewn the collar or I definitely would have used the tip about making a collar stand template (tip #8).

Final Thoughts

I’m really pleased that I’ve made myself a shirt and I’ll definitely wear this a lot even though it seems like all I’ve done is moan in this post. 

Another True Bias Southportish dress

I’ve been wearing my simplified maxi True Bias Southport dress a lot during this lovely weather we’ve had* this summer and it occurred to me that I never blogged it despite taking photos last year. A few snaps of it have made the odd appearance whenever I’ve mentioned my love of the Southport but I’ve never shared any details.

*Had being the operative word – at least in my little bit of the world. Me and the manfriend are going to Green Man festival next weekend so I’m hoping the sunshine comes back for that.

But anyway, back to my Southport dress.

This was one of my last minute makes before we went to Cyprus last year – I think I hemmed it the morning we were due to drive to Gatwick. It’s another Southport dress with all of the interesting Southport bits taken off. So I omitted the button band and cut the bodice on the fold, I left off the skirt slit and swapped the drawstring for an elastic waist. It’s a slightly more flared skirt too. I need to alter the skirt pattern piece really, I just swizzled the pattern pieces out while I was cutting out.

The fabric is a really nice feeling viscose I bought from Oh Sew Crafty. It’s a good quality viscose considering it’s super cheap – £4.20/m. It’s just that little bit more stable and nicer to work with than some of the other cheap viscose I’ve used. This colourway is sold out but they still have a tan version. I met up with the lovely @sewistella last weekend for coffee and a browse in Lee Mill Fabrics. They had a light background colourway of this fabric there and I was quite tempted but managed to resist. My willpower must have been particularly strong as I resisted loads of tempting fabric and only actually bought a pair of tassels to turn into earrings and some knicker elastic.

Back view of True Bias Southport dress

I didn’t have time for french seams so the seams are all overlocked, which made this a really quick sew. I did everything up to the hem in one evening session and then levelled the skirt hem and hemmed it the next day. The neckline and armholes are bound with self bias tape. I used my favourite binding method, which I think is called a french binding – what is it with me and french finishes? It’s the method where you fold the bias strip in half lengthways, sew both raw edges to the right side of your garment and then turn it all to the inside and stitch it down. Here’s a tutorial from Made by Rae.

The details

Pattern: True Bias Southport dress ish

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 51

A0 file included? No, only US copyshop

Measurements: At time of photos, Bust 39″ – Waist 32″ – Hips 41.5″ – Height 5’2″

Size made: 6, which is massively sized down. The finished bust measurement for the 6 is actually 38″ so I’m not entirely sure how I fit into the dress…

Alterations:

The same fit alterations I made to the bodice for my first version: I moved the shoulder seam forward by 2cm, raised the front neckline by about 1.5cm and shortened the skirt about 4″.

On this version did a small makeshift swayback adjustment as I was cutting the dress out by pivoting the bodice back pattern piece. I also tweaked the front shoulder seam to fix some neckline weirdness – I just cut a smidge off the front shoulder at the neckline, tapering to nothing at the shoulder point. I think this is a hollow chest adjustment.

In terms of style alterations:

  • I cut the bodice on the fold to omit the button band,
  • Made an elastic channel out of the waist seam instead of the drawstring channel, and
  • used a slit-less slashed and spread version of the skirt.

Fabric used: I think I used nearly 3m of 140cm wide viscose but I’ve got some quite big scraps leftover that I’m hoping to get a top out of.

Another version?

It wouldn’t be a shock. I think I might make a “Scoutport” next though, using the Grainline Scout tee for the top and the Southport skirt.

Any changes next time?

Maybe but I’m not sure what yet. Hopefully I’ll have lost some weight by then (I’ve been running 3-4 times a week) and I won’t need to make any fit changes. If I haven’t then I should probably add a bit of ease.

Me and the manfriend
This is my, “Mum, enough!” face as she gets a bit carried away with the continuous shooting mode on my camera.

Ooh, in Southport related news, Kelli has now released it as a paper pattern, which should be good news for any PDF haters who fancied the pattern.

I think that’s it from me for today. I’m probably going to disappear into my sewing room now and spend some time working on my Chi-town chino trousers. How about you, what’s on your sewing table at the moment? Are you still sewing summer clothes or have you started thinking about autumn yet? 

Megan Nielsen Flint Trousers

Hey there folks. How are you doing? Well I hope. I have one of those rarely seen beasts for you today – a finished garment post! I’m skipping my most recently made garment straight to the top of the blogging pile because I love them a little bit and have worn them nearly every day this week. I took these photos after a full day at work, which is why they’re so wrinkled.

Though looking at these photos is making me realise that my waistband fluff up is more noticeable than I thought. I switched the buttonholes and buttons around so that my buttons were hidden but I didn’t put them in the right place and the end of the waistband flaps about a bit. I do plan to sew a snap on the end but I haven’t done it yet.

There, flaw pointed out. Let’s get back to business. As the title says, they’re Megan Nielsen Flint trousers (I can’t bring myself to call them pants, sorry). I don’t think I’m ever going to get on board with the cropped trouser trend so I lengthened these to full length. I’m a shorty so I didn’t have to add much – I added 3″ and sewed a 2″ hem, not 2.5″ as in the pattern. I possibly could have added a smidge more length/taken a smaller hem to make them a bit more feet hidey but I was worried about them dragging on the floor.

They’re made with a lightweight chambray I bought from Oh Sew Crafty, which has led to me referring to them as my “Summer jeans”. I feel like they just go with everything. I had lots of compliments on them at work and got told I looked like I should be strolling about on the French Riviera in them. I’ll take that.

They look a bit like my bum is eating them in this back view but they don’t feel like they give me a wedgie at all. I may scoop the back crotch a little on my next version though, just to check.

In terms of the sewing everything went fine. I mostly followed the instructions but I did the waistband slightly differently. The instructions have you sew the waistband on (to the right side side) and then you have to press the inner seam allowance up before topstitching from the front to secure it. Instead I pressed the seam allowance up first (1/2″ instead of the 5/8″ in the pattern) without realising that it mattered which edge I pressed because of the notches being asymmetrical. So to make my notches match I had to sew the waist band to the wrong side, which I think I actually prefer because you know that you’re catching it all when you topstitch. I always have iffy bits when I stitch from the right side and hope that none of the seam allowance has escaped on the wrong side.

The details

Pattern: Megan Nielsen Flint shorts and pants

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 51

A0 file included? Yes, 3 pages.

How’s the PDF?

I got the A0 file printed so I can’t comment on how easy the tiled version is to assemble. The A0 version was fine but one whole page is taken up with un-nested waistbands for all sizes. If I was printing it again I think I’d be temped to skip that page and figure out which pages of the tiled version I needed to print for my size.

Measurements: Waist: 32″ Hips: 42″ Height: 5’2″

Size made: Large

Alterations:

  • Lengthened by 3″ to make full length trousers
  • Shortened the back rise by about an inch at the centre back, tapering to nothing at the side seams.
  • I also took the side seams and centre back in but I think that was because the waist had stretched out when I tried them on as the waistband still matched up in all the right places so I won’t adjust my pattern.
  • I swapped the buttons and buttonholes around (badly…)

Fabric used: 2m of 150cm wide cotton chambray from Oh Sew Crafty

Another version?

Yes I think so. Maybe a black or navy linen pair.

Any changes next time?

Yes. I’ll try a curved waistband instead of the straight one. I’m also toying with putting a fly front on them. That would kind of take away one of the selling points of the trousers but I actually enjoy sewing a fly zip.

Any tips or advice

Watch out for the waist stretching out. And if you do hidden buttons do a better job than I did.

Non-clueless versions:

Final Thoughts

I love my Flint pants (gag) and I think they’ve given me a bit of trouser sewing confidence. No crotch weirdness! That’s probably because of the fairly loose fit but it did make me wonder if I should give Megan Nielsen’s Ash jeans a go. Maybe this will be the year that I crack trousers!

Christmas presents I made last year

Happy Wednesday folks. Hope you’re all having a nice week. I have one of those rare beasts for you today: a finished garment post! Not a proper one though as I still can’t find the mojo to take photos of myself these days. I don’t know how I’m going to cope with Me Made May! I realised I didn’t share any photos of the things I made for Christmas presents last year, which is daft as I made a point of taking a few snaps before wrapping things.

I made myself a promise after getting myself stressed and miserable the previous year that I wouldn’t make any Christmas presents in December. I didn’t really stick to my promise but I did get everything finished by mid December, which is progress.

Helen’s Closet Suki Kimono

Helen's Closet Suki Kimono

I don’t really wear a dressing gown apart from a ratty old towelling one that I put on when I get out of the shower but the Helen’s Closet fan girl in me still wanted to make a Suki kimono. So my nan got one for Christmas.

It’s another fab pattern, with great instructions and lovely touches. I particularly like the hanging loop and the fact that the ties are sewn on so you can’t lose them. There are two sets of instructions for certain parts – the neckband and the cuffs – depending on whether or not you want your seams enclosed. I chose to enclose them and I used French seams for a nice finish.

Dinosaur tail

A couple of years ago I made my cousin’s little boy a dinosaur tail for Christmas. So when I found out that their little girl likes dinosaurs too (I don’t think big brother gives her much choice) I thought it’d be nice to make her a little tail too. I was sent a lovely photo of the two of them in their tails and apparently she’s been accepted into Clan dinosaur. ETA: There’s a good tutorial on how to make a tail here: http://www.running-w-scissors.com/2011/03/dinosaur-tails.html.

Dinosaur hoody

  

And this hoody is for my cousin’s little boy to go with the dinosaur tail I made him previously. I cut it out the Christmas before last but ran out of time to sew it so I don’t know if it actually fits. I think my mum said she’s seen a photo of him in it but I haven’t. Hopefully he can least hang it from his head as a cape.

Sew Over It Alex shirt dress


Not the best photo and the dress doesn’t actually look that good on her here. I’m sure it looks nicer in real life but she looks a bit swamped in fabric around the shoulders and arms here. I’ll get more photos eventually and I might need to offer to take it in a bit. It is supposed to have a dropped shoulder but they look like they’re hanging a good 2-3″ off Mum’s shoulder.

Christmas cakes

  

Every year I make my mum and nan a Christmas cake each and I curse myself so much for making a rod for my own back every time. My royal icing skills aren’t the best and these looked way better in my head but I’m still pretty pleased with them.

And that’s the lot. I tried not to go too nuts with the plans this time. I think I’m going to try to phase out the handmade gifts from now on though. It’s a lot of unnecessary pressure to put on myself at one of the most stressful time of the year. Maybe I need a “only make things I can’t buy” rule. How about you, do you make handmade gifts? Do you plan 23 different gifts and then only end up making 8?

Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry Dress

My first finished make of 2018! And I’m being a good blogger, as per my goal and went out and took photos straight away. Then took more in the spare room because it was so windy outside that all my photos were rubbish. I wasn’t wasting the make-up!

This is the Mayberry dress by Jennifer Lauren Handmade (previously Jennifer Lauren Vintage), which I was lucky enough to get for free in exchange for an honest review – keep an eye on Jennifer’s blog for her reviewer round-up to see lots of other versions. This is my second of her patterns and you’ll definitely be seeing a few more of them – I have four now. They’re always really different to anything else out there she puts some really interesting details in them. Like this asymmetric button band in the Mayberry dress.

I made the long sleeved version of the dress (in navy to basically rip off the long sleeved sample because it’s gorgeous) but with a slight tweak – the long and 3/4 sleeve versions have a little cuff that you gather the sleeve into. I decided to turn the sleeve hem up instead and make a little elastic channel so I can push my sleeves up. It worked out quite well but I took too much length off the sleeve so they’re shorter than I’d like.

Here’s what they look like pushed up

I used a viscose twill fabric and it feels lovely, it’s so soft and drapey but it was a nightmare to work with. It frayed like mad so my notches kept disappearing and I had to go get the pattern pieces a couple of times to re-do them. It also marks and goes shiny where you press over things like the facings, darts and seam allowances. Ooh speaking of facings, I gave Katie’s non-flipping facing tutorial a go on this and I’m very impressed. I generally hate facings but these stay put nicely because they’re anchored in the sleeve seam.

My overlocker broke while I was sewing this too so I had to change to French seams part way through. I’m actually quite glad I did as it makes the insides look lovely and tidy. Apart from the skirt, which is part badly overlocked, part pinked.

The pattern comes with different cup sizes, A-D, which always confuses me slightly as I’m small of boob but big of rib but there’s a section in the instructions to help you choose what size to make. I made a B and I was so impressed with the fit that I immediately bought the Laneway dress and wittered on to the Manfriend about Jennifer’s block. The dart is in the right place! The dart is never in the right place on me!

Even the shoulders fit well. If I’m being picky I may narrow them a tiny amount before my next version but it’s perfectly wearable with them where they are.

I wore the dress to work today and got loads of compliments, which is always nice. It’s a great work dress because it feels smart but is really comfortable. I just love the off centre buttons and the way the neckline curves, it’s just so pretty.

In terms of construction everything went together smoothly. The sleeves inserted like a dream. They are the best sleeves I’ve ever sewn. I sewed the pockets even though I’m not the biggest fan of side seam pockets – these are actually the first ones I’ve ever sewn. I like that they’re set back into the seam so they don’t flip out but I probably won’t bother with pockets next time. They’re not worth the faff for me as I don’t use them for anything other than my hands.

The instructions are really thorough and I liked that there were little tips spread throughout them. The little note on the facing pattern pieces to tell you to cut out the interfacing with the glue side up was especially handy because I didn’t look at the instruction booklet when cutting.

The details

Pattern: Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry dress

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 100 but you don’t need to print all 100. It’s just that many because of the cup sizes. There’s a handy sheet telling you which pages to print for what cup size and what sleeve length. I had to print 40 pages. But if I want to sew a different sleeve length in future I’d have to print out some more.

Easy to assemble? Everything went together fine but the pattern doesn’t have the triangle things on the edges so you need to make sure you have the front page with you when you assemble it so you know what page joins up with what.

A0 file included? Yes, 6 pages but each cup size is a different page so you wouldn’t have to print them all.

Measurements: I haven’t checked them in quite a while and I know they will be bigger now but last known numbers were: Bust 38.5″ Waist 31.5″ Hips 41″ (I’ll update this post when I’ve been brave enough to take them I checked them. They’re now: Bust 40″ Waist 33″ Hips 43″ so this is a sized down version)

Size made: 14B

Alterations: 

  • Changed the shape of the facings to include the shoulder.
  • Shortened the sleeves by 2″ and turned up 1/2″ then 1/2″ again for an elasticated channel at the wrist instead of the cuff.
  • I put a bit of elastic in the middle of my drawstring so I can tie it tight but it’s still comfortable and I don’t have to adjust the tie when I sit down.
  • Sewed a 1.5″ inch hem instead of 1″.

Fabric used: Viscose twill from Oh Sew Crafty (I’m not sure how much sorry because I had lots of odd shaped pieces left over from cutting out another project)

Another version?

Yes definitely. I’m really happy with the fit across my shoulders and the armhole/sleeve. I can see me using the pattern pieces to see what changes I need to make to other patterns. I fancy making a Mayberry top too – I did try to make one as a wearable toile but I didn’t have as much fabric as I thought I did. It was just going to be the bodice with a gathered ruffle on the bottom.

Any changes next time?

I won’t shorten the sleeve if I do an elasticated cuff again and I won’t do snaps again. My floor was littered with dead snaps after I finished installing them and one has come loose already. Not a fan.

I may narrow the shoulder slightly, maybe 3/8″.

The verdict

Despite my snap hell and my self shredding fabric trying to ruin the experience I really like this dress. I love the fit and I’m all about the zipless dress so I’ll definitely make more. This may be the beginning of a pattern love affair.

Sew Over It Penny dress

sew over it penny dress

It was love at first sight when I first glimpsed the Sew Over It Penny dress in my inbox. She was the PDF club pattern in June and I snapped her up straight away. I even printed and assembled the pattern the very same day, which is not like me at all. Progress stalled while I waited for fabric to arrive and then I decided to use completely different fabric anyway. This fabric is quite different to what I normally go for but I really like it.

I got the manfriend to take these photos for me in the park behind the Town Hall 5 minutes from our house and I’m really pleased with them. I also tried to get some little videos to use on my YouTube channel and then some people walked past with their dog and I felt like a right dick. How fashion bloggers and YouTubers do it I don’t know.

Anyway, the dress! I’m a bit in love with it. As I’ve mentioned a couple of times I’m on a zip embargo so I’ve been trying to hunt down pretty and comfy zipless dresses, the Penny dress definitely sits nicely in that gap. I got lots of compliments when I wore it to work and I got to, “thanks, I made it!” to someone who didn’t know I sew, which is always fun.

penny dress

My version is accidentally a bit skimpy so don’t rush in and add length. It’s a midi skirt as drafted, which I don’t like on me. I just feel a bit swamped in fabric as I’m only 5’2″ so I shortened it before cutting it out. I was originally going to cut the length of the size 8 but then I measured it and thought that would still be a bit long so I took 2″ off. Then I tried it on once I’d made it and thought it was still slightly too long so I took about 2-3″ off when I levelled the hem and then regretted it. It’s hardly indecent but I think I’d like an extra inch or so.

I managed to get it out of much less fabric than the fabric requirements say (3.2m for my size) by ignoring the layplan and putting the pattern pieces around the skirt and cutting some pieces on a single layer. I got everything except the back bodice out of the same section of fabric as the skirt.

sew over it penny dress

The details

Pattern: Sew Over It Penny dress

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 40

A0 file included? Yes, 2 pages

Measurements: Bust: 39″ – Waist: 32″ – Hips: 41.5″

Size made: I chose to make a 12 – even though my measurements put me as a 14 – based on the finished measurements. The bust is the only important one in this dress and the 12 has the finished measurement of 41.5″ giving me 2.5″ of ease, which is plenty for my preferred fit.

Alterations: 

I shortened the skirt a lot, probably about 6″ in the end, which was a bit too much.

Fabric used: About 2.25m of 140cm wide viscose from Oh Sew Crafty

soi penny dress

Another version?

Yes definitely, I’ve already cut it out and started sewing it.

Any changes next time?

I’ve cut it the same length but I won’t shorten it as much, if at all, when I level the hem. I lengthened the centre front a little bit (3/4″), tapering to nothing at the side seams. The bodice waist seam is completely straight and I find that shaped ones work better on me.

Any tips or advice

Whenever I sew a collar I always trim the undercollar down a smidge (1/8″ at most) as it helps the seam roll to the underside of the collar.

There is an error on the skirt pattern piece, it tells you to cut out two on the fold, when you on only need to cut out one. This has been corrected.

There was a notch missing when I sewed Penny so I found point 12 in the instructions a tad confusing but the notch has been added now. To be honest though, I think the instructions could be a bit confusing even with the notch because they don’t make it that clear that the facing is also the button placket. You’re told to “Very neatly, understitch the facing to the seam allowance, 2-3mm away from the seam. Then, to create the button placket, fold the facing to the inside of the bodice at the centre front notch. Press in place.”  I wouldn’t call it understitching when it is going to show on the outside and I think a fold line on the pattern piece would be really helpful. I haven’t re-downloaded the pattern yet though so I don’t know if they’ve added a line or just a notch. (Edit: SOI have now written a blog post to clarify this step, it’s here. They still call it understitching though and I would definitely call it topstitching but I’m knitpicking.)

I also found it helpful to change the order of the steps. The instructions have you sew the bodice side seams quite early on and you stitch the back facing down as one of the last steps. I did all of the collar steps, then stitched the back facing down, then sewed the side seams last before moving onto the skirt. I have seen someone on Instagram suggest doing the buttonholes before putting the skirt on too. But I didn’t bother with buttonholes and just sewed the placket shut.

sew over it london penny dress

Non-clueless versions:

I haven’t seen a version I don’t like though, check out the Instagram hashtag #soipennydress for loads more beauties.

Final Thoughts

I’m really pleased with my Penny dress and I think it’s a lovely pattern but I think you’d want to have a couple of projects under your belt before tackling it.

#TwentySevenJean Begins

A couple of weekends ago I finally strapped on my big girl pants and waded back into jeans fitting. This time armed with my big ass book on fitting and a more easy going attitude to what’s good enough I was confident that I will actually get a wearable pair of jeans at the end.

I spent pretty much the whole weekend doing flat pattern alterations and then sewing up a rough toile, making tweaks and then altering my flat pattern again. In the end I reached what I tend to call the Eff It Point (though obviously I say the real word), most often seen with DIY but it does occur in other areas too. Where I’ve just had enough and decide that perfectionism can do one. I pranced around in my toile in front of the manfriend asking, “this is good enough, right?”

I cut out my jeans last weekend and finally got round to starting sewing them this weekend. After sewing the pockets, I basted them together and then tried them on. To be met with… WEIRD CROTCH WRINKLES OF DOOM

I have no clue how to fix this. Most things I’ve read say that frown lines from the crotch may mean that your crotch is too long but trying to pinch out the excess didn’t seem to do anything so I’m not sure that’s the problem. I wondered if I maybe needed to let the side seams out in that general area in case it’s just stress wrinkles but the jeans don’t feel too tight at all.

I had a sort of bubble crotch thing going on in my toile, which was helped by straightening out the front curve – the flat pubis adjustment in this post. But now I’m second guessing whether that was the right thing to do.

I bought a Craftsy class on fitting jeans called The Perfect Jeans: Fitting Techniques for Every Body by Jennifer Stern-Hasemann and Jennifer is really, really helpful if you ask questions. If you upload a photo of your problem and your pattern she will draw on the pattern suggestions of how to fix your problem. So I’ve just uploaded my photos and asked for help. Because I’m lost on my own.

I thought I’d share my progress here because I always find people’s posts about fitting really interesting. And if I eventually fix the problem it might be useful if you get the same problem. Plus, you might be able to give me some advice. 

Here’s the back view too:

This is view B of the Closet Case Ginger jeans shortened to a more mid rise jean by the way – using this tutorial. I shortened them by 3cm. Though looking at this photo I think I possibly shouldn’t have shortened them quite so much. And while I like a snug fit on the bum maybe a little bit more room wouldn’t go amiss.

Hopefully I’ll be able to improve the fit of this pair. But even if I can’t I’m still going to finish them and wear them. I’ll report back if they get any better.

Hope you’ve all had a great weekend with less frowning at yourself in the mirror than me.

Alina Sewing + Design Co Chi-town Chino Shorts

I very nearly didn’t blog these shorts as I hate the photos but I feel like my blog should be a full reflection of my sewing and if that means I have to share some unflattering photos so be it. They also really could have done with a go over with the iron, which doesn’t exactly help. But oh well.

I originally bought this green sateen from Fabric Godmother with the plan to make Grainline Maritime shorts as I loved Josie’s pair. But then I saw a few Chi-town chinos popping up on my Instagram feed and I really like the trouser version from expansion pack 2 so I thought I would buy that instead.

I really enjoyed making these shorts. The instructions are so thorough and well thought through I think they’re a perfect first shorts/trousers pattern. You are talked through absolutely everything, from how to choose your size, to how to make a muslin/toile, how to sew French seams on your pockets and even how you can customise the pattern.

The instructions start by getting you to do all of your prep first, which I really liked. You apply all your interfacing, sew the belt loops, fly shield, back pockets and finish some seams. It means everything is ready for you when you get to that stage.

I’ve only sewn two fly zips, these and the one on my abandoned Ginger jeans and the instructions were very similar. I’ve seen a lot of people rave about the Ginger jeans zip instructions but I thought these were possibly even better. On the Gingers you have to mark your pivot point and stitching line for the front crotch but on the Chi-town chinos the fly extension interfacing is shaped so that the edge of it is your stitching line. A simple thing to be impressed by and others might not care but I thought that was such a good idea.

I’ve got quite a lot of excess fabric bunching on the front and they’re a little bigger than I’d like them to fit, except on my bum so I think for my next version I’ll size down but do a full seat adjustment. Though lowering the rise a smidge might help too. Mine are a little shorter than as drafted because I did a turned up cuff instead of hemming them, I thought it looked better on me.

I made these over a few days just before going on holiday and I really enjoyed the whole process. I love making trousers/shorts, it’s just the fitting I hate. They’re a great project to work on in small chunks of time because of all the little steps, which I really like. You also get to feel like a sewing ninja when you’re done even though it’s pretty easy sewing, just with a few more steps.

My topstitching is pretty wobbly and the zip bartacks didn’t go particularly well. I tried to use it to cover up some of my iffy stitching and it didn’t really work. I installed my first jeans button – probably not quite in the right place if this photo is anything to go but but I’m still pleased.

This is a dreadful photo but I thought I should show the back as well. I don’t think they’d look this awful if I’d ironed them. You can see where I had a bit of wobble when I was topstitching the waistband facing. I did find that part a bit of a struggle, without having a seam allowance marking to follow. I stuck a bit of washi tape to my machine but it’s not the same. The pockets are perhaps a smidge too wide set and a bit too high. I also didn’t finish all the belt loops.

The pattern includes a really useful waist extension at the centre back seam to give you some fitting wiggle room, which I thought was a nice idea. As part of the sewing process Alina also has you baste the shorts together and pin the centre back so you know if you need the extension or not.

The details

Pattern: Alina Sewing + Design Co Chi-town Chino Shorts (also a skirt included)

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 31

A0 file included? No, only US copyshop

Measurements: Waist 31.5″ – Hips 41″

Size made: 12

Alterations: None, except the cuff.

Fabric used: 0.9m Green Stretch Sateen

Another version?

I’ve definitely got a pair of the trousers planned. I’ve bought some beige gaberchino from Minerva for a wearable toile but ultimately I want a navy pair.

Any changes next time?

Yes, I’ll size down and do a full seat adjustment. I may lower the bum slightly too and I might change the front crotch shape. We’ll see. I’m working on some Ginger jeans at the moment and I’ve been learning a lot about fit that I will probably apply to all my future bottom half makes.

Final Thoughts

Overall this is just a great, thoughtful pattern, with loads of lovely little touches throughout the instructions and I’m looking forward to making the trouser version and getting the fit right.