I’ve published my first vlog of 2020, which is a look back at my favourite sewing patterns released in 2019.
You can watch the vlog below or via my YouTube channel.
I’ve published my first vlog of 2020, which is a look back at my favourite sewing patterns released in 2019.
You can watch the vlog below or via my YouTube channel.
Time taken (excluding cutting out): 20 hours (including lots of alterations)
Fabric: Masson Mills cotton
When Alice & Co Patterns announced they would be releasing a free pattern based on Mary Quant’s Georgie Dress, to coincide with the recent Mary Quant exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, I got excited. I got even more excited to make my own version of the Georgie Dress when I realised that I had a fabric in my stash which was a reasonable approximation for the fabric used in the original dress held in the V&A’s collection.
My fabric is a cotton woven at Masson Mill in Matlock Bath. Mason Mill was a working cotton mill from 1783 until 1991 and now houses a museum (amongst other things) which produces a small quantity of fabric for demonstration and sale purposes. The fabric is sold very cheaply (a few pounds per metre) as offcuts or cut from the bolt. It’s narrow width due to being woven on traditional mechanised looms, but I managed to make this dress from three offcuts of the striped fabric (all 1 metre+) and a small amount of a purple cotton, also from Masson Mill, for the ruffles. The bodice is as per the pattern but I had to reduce the volume of fabric used in the skirt.
Although I rarely sew vintage, it was vintage patterns which first got me interested in garment sewing before I discovered indie designers. I still find vintage (and vintage inspired) designs visually really appealing, but often find them less appealing to actually sew. The construction of this dress took 20 hours (due to me making various alterations to fit and style), which is by far the longest I’ve spent on a sewing project since I started timing myself a couple of months ago, and by the end I just wanted it finished.
I started by cutting a size 12, but after basting together and trying on the bodice in my lining fabric (as helpfully recommended in the pattern instructions) I decided it was too big and trimmed my bodice pieces down to a size 10, grading to a 12 at the waist. I think I could have gone down a size again in the bodice, so suspect the pattern contains a reasonable amount of ease but it’s probably also the result of using a loosely woven cotton fabric.
My fabric choice wasn’t the easiest to work with. The striped fabric is loosely woven, slightly shiny (meaning it really shows any fit issues), and very lightweight. The purple fabric I used for the ruffles is slightly heavier weight which caused them to droop and pull on the bodice, which I mitigated by sewing them in place along the neckline seam. I was aiming for a retro look, but when I first tried this dress on the pattern and fabric combination looked very frumpy. Reducing the length of the skirt made a huge difference to making it look more 60s and less Victorian.
A sign to myself that I had moved beyond being a beginner sewer was when I became confident making alterations to sewing projects I wasn’t completely happy with. Before that point I would finish construction as per the pattern instructions, hang the offending garment in my wardrobe and then rarely wear it. I’m still going back to those previous sewing projects and fixing the aspects which annoy me, now that I’m better able to guess what it is I don’t like and how to fix it. I’ve actually been making small alterations this evening to two garments which I do wear but which annoy me a little bit every time. I started tap dancing classes recently, I’m really bad at tap and it makes me appreciate all the more having a hobby (sewing) where I do feel like I know what I’m doing and never feel completely at a loss – even if some projects do take more effort than anticipated.
I’m glad I got this dress to a point where I am happy wearing it, and if I make the pattern again I’ll try it in a more modern fabric for a completely different look.
Now that it’s November I’m sharing my recommendations for present making. You can see the full list of pattern suggestions on my vlog, and the full list with links is also copied below.
I’ve included lots of free patterns, plus some paid-for patterns which make ideal gifts. I’ve focused on sewing patterns, but have also recommended a few favourite sources of free knitting patterns.
Now I just need to start making some of these rather than leaving it until the last minute…
Bombazine (oven) Mitt: https://www.bombazine.com.au/bombazine-mitt/
Noodlehead, Forage Bag: https://noodle-head.com/2018/10/forage-bag-free-pattern.html
Noodlehead, Tiny Treasures Basket & Tray: https://noodle-head.com/2016/07/tiny-treasures-basket-tray-free-pattern.html
Victory Patterns, Tailor’s Ham & Sausage: https://www.tillyandthebuttons.com/2012/08/how-to-make-tailors-hams-and-sausages.html
Very Purple Person, Reversible Bag: http://verypurpleperson.com/2010/04/making-reversible-bag/
Thread Theory, Wallet Set: https://threadtheory.ca/collections/pdf-sewing-patterns/products/the-wallet-gift-giving-set-pdf
Milan AV-JC, Zero Waste Origami Bag: https://www.milanavjc.com/opensource-en-uamep-origami-bag
Very Sharron, Reversible Box Tote: https://www.veryshannon.com/patterns/reversibleboxtote
Wendy Ward / MIY Collection, various patterns: https://www.miycollection.com/collections/sewing-patterns-digital
Digital Pattern Library, House Tape Measure: https://digitalpatternlibrary.com/blog/2019/4/16/scrap-buster-zero-waste-house?rq=free%20pattern
Sew Over It, Tie: https://sewoverit.co.uk/product/tie-pdf-sewing-pattern/
Purl Soho, Tie: https://www.purlsoho.com/storage/fathersdaytie_FINAL.pdf
FreeSewing.org, Trayvon Tie: https://freesewing.org/patterns/trayvon
Grainline Studio, Stowe Bag: https://grainlinestudio.com/collections/accessories/products/stowe-bag?variant=22533587599442
Grainline Studio, Portside Travel Set: https://grainlinestudio.com/collections/accessories/products/portside-travel-set?variant=22533587501138
Grainline Studio, Hemlock Tee
Tilly & the Buttons, Eye Mask: https://www.tillyandthebuttons.com/2015/07/how-to-make-eye-mask-free-pattern.html
Tilly & the Buttons, Slipper Boots: https://www.tillyandthebuttons.com/2017/11/free-pattern-make-your-own-snuggly.htmlnne,
FreeSewing.org, Bruce Boxer Shorts: https://freesewing.org/patterns/bruce
Thread Theory, Comox Trucks Boxer Shorts: https://threadtheory.ca/collections/sewing-patterns/products/comox-trunks-pdf
So Zo What Do You Know, Pants & Vest: http://sozowhatdoyouknow.blogspot.com/p/free-patterns.html
Madalynne, Lingerie Patterns: https://madalynne.com/product-category/lingerie-sewing-pattern/
Ohhh Lulu, Lingerie Patterns: https://www.ohhhlululingerie.com/product-category/free/
Purl Soho, Free Sewing Patterns: https://www.purlsoho.com/create/tag/free-sewing-pattern/
In the Folds / Peppermint Magazine, Free Patterns: https://peppermintmag.com/sewing-school/
Sarah Kirsten, Fennel Fanny Pack: https://sarkirsten.com/patterns/fennel-fanny-pack
Kylie & the Machine, Ida Clutch: https://kylieandthemachine.com/introducing-the-ida-clutch/
Pattern Scout, Luna Crossbody Bag: https://www.patternscoutstudio.com/shop/luna-crossbody-pdf-sewing-pattern
Aneela Hoey, Accessory Patterns: https://comfortstitching.bigcartel.com/ / https://shopbeyondmeasure.co.uk/collections/patterns
Purl Soho, Free Knitting Patterns: https://www.purlsoho.com/create/tag/free-knitting-pattern/
Fringe Association, Free Knitting Patterns: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/fringe-association-on-ravelry/patterns
Loop London, Free Knitting Patterns: https://www.loopknitlounge.com/category/free-knitting-crochet-patterns/
Arne & Carlos: https://arnecarlos.com/
Tin Can Knits, Free Knitting Patterns: http://tincanknits.com/patterns-free.html
Brooklyn Tweed, Lavender Sachets: https://brooklyntweed.com/blogs/blog/lavender-sachets
I loved the Myosotis pattern when it was released, but it was when I saw the fabric that the idea of this dress got lodged in my brain and wouldn’t leave me in peace until it was realised. The fabric is a double gauze by the Japanese brand Kokka, and is embroidered with astrological designs. I originally saw the fabric on Guthrie & Ghani’s instagram feed in an alternative colourway, but by the time I had bitten the bullet and made the decision to order it they were out of stock. It was relatively difficult to track down, but I found this white colourway available from Miss Matatabi and put in an order quick before they ran out too. With the dress already fully formed in my mind, I picked out matching pearlescent buttons during Male Pattern Boldness Day in New York in March.
I made View A, with all possible ruffles, in size 34/36 (grading between sizes at the waist). As per my last blog post, I was clearly inspired by / copied the product image for version A, which is also made in a white cotton fabric. During construction I should have taken more care to stabilise my fabric on the long curved front bodice pieces, because when I initially got to the point of sewing the bodice together I found that the delicate double gauze fabric had stretched and the bodice wouldn’t lie flat. Luckily I had enough fabric left to recut the bodice, and second time around I underlined the bodice pieces in a plain white cotton, making the bodice much more stable, easier to sew and opaque.
A white cotton Myosotis might seem destined for spring and summer, but I think it looks suitably autumnal in these pictures, paired with some wintery tights, boots and a hat. As it happens, these photos were actually taken during the summer, in June, while on a family holiday to the Peak District. I packed a suitcase full of new summery me-made garments having not checked the weather forecast, and spent the whole week pairing them with boots and a coat.
With the three sewing events I’ve been involved in organising this year (Paris Sewcial, The Sewing Weekender, and SewBrum) over for another year (at least) I’m hoping to catch-up with posting a few other sewing and knitting projects from this year which are yet to make it to the blog. I’ve also set myself the goal of knitting a Halloween-themed jumper before the end of the month (wish me luck, I knit multiple gauge swatches, none of which were right, and in the end just went with the recommended needle size). After that it will be time to think about Christmas present making – and finishing the coat for Phil which I started last winter and abandoned in March!
I love Ana of CocoWawa Crafts‘ patterns – especially the Honeycomb – and I own quite a few of them, but I hadn’t gotten around to sewing any of them until this summer. When Ana released the Raspberry Jumpsuit I decided it was time to put that right, and to have a go at sewing my first shirred bodice at the same time.
I made the Jumpsuit version, in View 3, with has a metal hoop detail on the straps. I didn’t have any hoops to hand at the recommended size so used some small hoops intended for lingerie-making. I actually like the smaller hoop for a more subtle strap detail.
I made a few minor tweaks to the pattern. I crossed the straps at the back for visual interest, and I added a belt and thread loops at the waist as I’m not keen on visible waist seams. Size wise I graded between a 10 and 12, but could have gotten away with a straight size 10 given the loose style of the design and the leeway provided by the shirred bodice.
I hadn’t realised until now, but the colour of my fabric is very similar to Ana’s sample image for this version of the pattern. No doubt I was subconsciously drawn to this fabric in my stash for that reason. My fabric was purchased from Birmingham Rag Market a year ago, and cost £1.50 per metre. This project was another lesson in no longer sewing with cheap fabric, as the trousers started to pill where my handbag rubbed against them after a few wears. After I constructed the jumpsuit I realised that the trousers were too translucent to be decent (but not the bodice due to the shirring), so I cut a second pair, shortened to knee-length shorts, and attached them inside the trousers at the waist seam.
The shirred bodice is easy to sew and comfortable to wear. The pattern recommends purchasing 6 spools of shirring elastic, but I think I only used one (perhaps two at a push) and I don’t think my bodice is particularly loose, although perhaps it could have been a bit tighter just above the waist seam as you can see some movement of the fabric in these pictures.
Expect a few more summer sewing projects from me as I catch up with the backlog of photos I pestered Phil to take while we were on holiday during August, and earlier this year. A week or two of rain and colder weather has however had an impact on my sewing plans, as coat and jacket patterns are suddenly looking much more exciting. I’m thinking of starting a jacket for myself with a pattern from the August issue of Burda, and of finally finishing the coat for Phil which I abandoned in March. You can guess which of the two is the most enticing, but hopefully I’ll get to both before too long.
Pattern: Opian Pilatus
Time taken (excluding cutting out): 6 hours
Fabric: Liberty ‘Santa Monica Brighton Swim Regenerated Nylon’
August and September have been a busy couple of months for me with a week’s weaving course, The Sewing Weekender, jeans making and ply split braiding workshops, and a holiday to Croatia. Today I’m finally having a quiet Saturday at home with time for video gaming (I bought myself Untitled Goose Game this morning), blogging, and – later on with any luck – some sewing. I might make a start on the Alice & Co Mary Quant-inspired Georgie Dress if I have a suitable fabric in my stash.
After my weaving course and the Sewing Weekender, Phil suggested that perhaps we should go on holiday together for a change! I put in a request for somewhere sunny and near the sea as I fancied another go at sewing a swimsuit, specifically the Opian Pilatus sewing pattern.
My Pilatus was inspired by the lovely versions by Katie and Linda in particular. I love the cut-outs, the high waist and that front tie. It is a really straightforward pattern to put together – the bodice is self-lined meaning that it’s not even necessary to attach elastic in the top, just at the edges of the bottoms. Following a couple of projects which seemed to take forever (but probably didn’t, just lots of short sewing sessions) I’ve started timing how long my sewing projects are taking for my own interest. Excluding cutting out, this project took me six hours, which I think is pretty reasonable for a swimsuit.
This is the second swimsuit I have sewn, following a Bombshell Swimsuit in 2014. My sewing skills have increased enormously since 2014 (I only started garment sewing in earnest in 2013) – as have my blog pictures, check out those original Bombshell swimsuit pics in the garden. My Bombshell turned out perfectly wearable, and I still wear it, but I did struggle with getting a good fit. This time around I found swimsuit sewing straightforward. I cut a size 2/4, grading between sizes at the waist, with no changes to the pattern.
The fabric is a Liberty swim-suiting fabric in print ‘Santa Monica’ and fabric type ‘Brighton Swim’. I bought it in a half-price sale (it’s still available if you’re quick) from the Liberty website. I’m really impressed by the quality of the fabric, it’s opaque, a good weight, and dries quickly once out of the water. The fabric I used for my Bombshell wasn’t really a swimsuiting fabric – I think it was probably intended for leotards or dance costumes. It works ok for a swimsuit but it takes ages to dry. This Liberty fabric feels so professional in comparison, which makes a huge difference to making my Pilatus feel well made.
Excuse the number of pictures. I wore this swimsuit in Croatia to swim in the hotel pool, the ocean, and a salt lake on Lokrum Island. All of the locations were so beautiful that I couldn’t resist requesting a few more pictures (from Phil) each time.
Just a quick blog post today to share a pair of trousers which I made (and photographed) almost exactly one year ago, but never did share on the blog.
These are Simplicity 8605, which were part of Simplicity’s 2018 Spring collection, made in a super soft chambray fabric from Guthrie & Ghani. They’re paired here with a Paprika Patterns Onyx woven tee.
I do love a paper bag waist and I also love a quick and easy sewing pattern so I clearly need to make more of these trousers. I wore these non-stop last summer, and now that the weather has warmed up here in the UK I’ve been wearing them lots again. I might have a browse through the stash and see what fabric I have that is suitable for a second pair.
The pattern is as simple as it looks; five pattern pieces for the trousers, and four for the skirt also included in the pattern. The paper bag waist is created by attaching a casing, containing two rows of elastic, to the waist of the trousers. They are extra easy to fit. The legs are loose, and you can control the width of the waist by the length of the elastic you add. I appear to have made these in size Small, which according to the pattern envelope is smaller than my measurements, and they fit great.