I made a Christmas dress! (no santas or snowmen were harmed)

I rarely make myself anything for Christmas but this year I just fancied a little dress that would allow me to eat an extra mince pie.

I know, I know, I have made the same pattern again.  I just can’t help myself.  I have chosen to make The Raglan Sleeve Dress from Japanese pattern Book “Stylish Party Dresses” by Yoshiko Tsukiori.

These are my versions of this pattern so far, a top hack, a long sleeve top hack and a black crepe dress. I love it, it’s an easy one to make and sometimes easy is just what I need.  It’s also extremely useful when I am very time poor, which of course, I always am at this time of year.

I spotted this fantastic fabric on Pitt Trading‘s Instagram page.  It was love at first sight.  The fabric is just amazing, it had to be mine.  It’s rare that I make impulse fabric purchases but this is one of those rare occasions.  I am sure you can see why I just went for it.


The description was polyester, large digital print, 150cm wide.  I had visions of a floaty rayon type fabric but it wasn’t that at all.  It was almost like a lightweight scuba.  Not unhappy with this turn of events I have to say.  It has body and I like a bit of body in my fabrics.   It also had a bit of stretch so I thought I would treat it as a stretch fabric.

I decided to use my walking foot throughout this process, but use a standard needle and not a ballpoint.  I also decided to finish the seams with a 3 strand overlocked edge to help the seams sit flatter.

The dress itself is an easy one, made before many times so the only things to contend with was managing the fabric.  The walking foot and the overlocking worked a treat but pressing was an issue.  The fabric has bounce.  I remembered an excellent video blog post by Did You Make That? about such issues, using a clapper and some simple ironing techniques so I followed her lead.

I don’t own a clapper and I am sure many sewers don’t so I had to find an alternative.  What I did end up using was our sleeve pressing ham.  It’s long and heavy (perhaps not as flat as it could be) but it did help reduce the fabric’s bounce.

I was super careful when pressing, using a piece of fabric as a pressing cloth just incase I scorched the fabric.  I have burnt fabric so many times, often at the end of a make, like here.  It often results in tears and a lot of swearing.  You would think that I had learnt my lesson but it seems not. I slipped, missed the pressing cloth and burnt the shoulder of the dress in it’s final press.  If it had been on a black piece of the pattern I think I could have lived with it but no it was on the peach panel, right on the shoulder for all to see.  There was no option but to remove the sleeve and recut it.

Sometimes these things prove to be happy accidents.  I wasn’t entirely happy with the neckline.  It is faced and with this slightly thicker and bouncer fabric it just wasn’t sitting as flat as I like.


I had under stitched the neckline but when I clipped the curve (as per instructions) it started to look quite jagged and bulky.  You could also see the clipping after I pressed and topstitched.

Pre-burn shot: I burnt the peach piece on the right shoulder.

So when removing the right sleeve, I removed the top stitching, under stitching and facing from the neckline.  Due to the clipping I also had to cut the neckline back a little, which was fine. I decided to use some bias binding to finish the neckline.  I am much happier with the result.

I decided against any kind of pattern matching but did want the neckline to be predominately black so to hide the top stitching.  I was also super anal with the hemming and changed the thread from black to peach and back again when finishing.  Has anyone done that before or is it just me?

Lessons were learnt with this make. I have since made a pressing cloth with a tag which now hangs next to my iron as a constant reminder.  I think the other lesson was to sew more instinctively.  I thought to myself that binding would be better than facing on the neckline but dismissed it.  Go with your instincts.

So here it is.  I love it and have already worn it a couple of times.

New sleeve in place…
Notice the machine hemming – it’s invisible as I changed the thread
Love the green panel around the neckline here
Much happier with the neckline (even though I don’t look it!)

I am really loving this fabric, I also have enough left to make something else.  I am thinking a little self drafted skirt??  I just can’t leave this fabric in my stash!


A synthetic dream!

Last week I was in the UK.  A flying visit for my friend’s wedding.  An amazing wedding with lots of old school friends, some of which I haven’t seen since I was yawning my way through A-level geography.

I always like to make myself a little something for my trips (apart from the obvious wedding attire that is!) so I decided on a top. I wanted something I could wear with jeans and that wouldn’t crease.  I had the perfect fabric!

I had recently stumbled into Tessuti and raided the remnants table. I came out with a marvellous 1m piece of monochrome nylon mesh.  Lets just say creasing would not be an issue.  It’s a synthetic dream!

Surprisingly enough I reached for my Japanese pattern book collection, choosing the Stylish Party Dresses book.


I decided to hack this dress pattern, the raglan sleeve dress, into a top. Of course, I wanted to add a little interest and make the shoulder panels again.  I know, I know, I do this all the time, but I just love it!!

Black crepe dress from an earlier blog post – more details here

I made a minor tweak to the pattern by lowering the neckline a little, this meant I could dispense with the closure at the back. I cropped the top quite short.  It’s shorter than I would normally wear but I think it works well with this style.

The shoulder panels are made from the reverse of the fabric.



It was a quick sew and a surprisingly easy fabric to work with.  It does have lots of ‘bounce’ so pressing wasn’t all that effective and I didn’t persevere as I was scared it might melt.

I did spend a little extra time in the finishing.  I hand stitched the binding on the inside so there are no visible hems, cuffs or neckline stitching. It worked a treat.




I have worn it A LOT, it was perfect for the UK climate too as we had surprisingly good weather. It also took me back to the joys of 80’s synthetic clothing.  Thank god there wasn’t a naked flame in sight!

Raglan, the King of Sleeves!

I love a raglan, I am drawn to them. I first made a raglan in stretch for the little one, a Brindille and Twig pattern. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make. It convinced me that I never needed to buy a sweatshirt for the my toddler again.


Trying to find a larger sized pattern for the big boys seemed to allude me, so I decided to draft a version based on there measurements (luckily they are about the same size).  Whoop Whoop, it worked a treat thanks to some help from Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich.

I backed this up by drafting my very first pattern, of course a raglan sweatshirt.  It’s one of my favourite pieces, mainly because I drafted it and also the awesome bling on the shoulders.  I am sure you have seen this many times before.

I am getting to the point I promise.


I don’t really know what it is that makes me love a raglan so much.  Maybe it’s the simple construction or maybe the flattering fall of the sleeve.  Whatever it is, I love them and it inspired me to find the perfect raglan sleeve dress.

The first one I made was a very simple self-drafted number based on my sweatshirt. I didn’t want a stretch version though, so I just added a little extra width, basically enough to fall easily over my hips.  A boxy shape, my favourite shape. I then added more ease on the three quarter length sleeves.  It is possibly the most impractical item I own, it’s in white!  WHY?? What was I thinking!  The kids are not allowed to come near me with food!  This ultimately means I don’t wear it much, shame really because it’s rather nice.

The main fabric was a charity store find, it’s a cotton mix with quite a nice drape.  The sleeve fabric is a cotton lace I found at Lincraft many moons ago.  There is nothing fancy about this make.  Just some homemade bias binding around the neck, hemmed sleeves, and a chunky hem at the bottom.


A more practical colour option was in order and I wanted to try a ‘proper’ pattern! So I tried the raglan sleeve dress in the Japanese pattern book, Stylish Party Dresses.

I used some black crepe that I found at the charity shop.  I have been holding onto it for ages looking for the right project but I think this was the one! I wanted to make it a little special so I used the last bit of my quilted bronze fabric.  This is the reverse side of the fabric I made my Frocktails dress  in.  It’s such a wonderful colour, I just couldn’t help myself.  I seem to have a thing for bronze shoulders!

I didn’t have enough to make a full sleeve, which is why I opted for the shoulder panel. It’s a minor tweak and easy to redraw, I wrote about it here. It’s amazing how much you improve as you sew, I just re-read that post and wondered who wrote it, lol!

The neckline was also quite high on the pattern so I dropped it by a few centimetres. The pattern calls for a button closure but as I had dropped the neckline I could get it over my head so I ignored this step.

I quite like it, although I think it is perhaps a little short! I will see how I go and then maybe drop the hemline by about 5cm. I rather like it and I am glad I used the last scraps of the bronze as I love it so much!


I am currently working on the ultimate raglan, the Rushcutter dress by In the Folds. It has some really interesting elements in it, I am excited about this one.

Watch this space…

The Refashioners – upcycling at its very best!

refashion_6-clear-background-250px You know I love an upcycle.  It’s the post-war ‘waste not, want not’ mentality that was drilled into me by my parents!  Ah, these Northerner have a lot to answer for. So, I recently signed up for The Refashioners 2015.  This is a month long project where a bunch of sewing bloggers are challenged to refashion a garment to highlight how cool, creative, economically and ethically sound refashioning old garments actually is.  The catch is that these sewing bloggers don’t get to decide what the garment is.  The garment is mailed to them. This year it’s a men’s shirt. Anyone can get involved in this project, I like a challenge so decided to sew along. I bought a shirt from Vinnies, down the road.  I did try to raid my husbands wardrobe but it was slim pickings and not all that inspiring.  The shirt I found cost me $6.  It is a lovely quality herringbone in sea blue and white and is a super soft cotton with a lovely drape. It’s a large size, probably an XL, which gave me plenty to go at.

Check out the large double cuffs
A close up to see the herringbone detail

I had a few ideas in my head and drew up a few sketches but I kept coming back to a jacket I made about 18 months ago and thought that a version of that would work a treat. It is called the Ruffle-Front Jacket from the Japanese sewing book, Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha. IMG_3203 It’s a raglan sleeve jacket with a large open neckline. I like the idea of adding a raglan sleeve into this formal shirt, it gives it a more casual style and a looser fit.  The tie closure runs through the facing from one centre front hem to the other.  You can also add a contrasting fabric to the facing as it will be visible when you shirr the ruffles. IMG_3140 I pulled the whole shirt apart and started to lay the pattern pieces out.  This is the raglan sleeve.  As you can see I had to shorten the sleeve length considerably and also reduce the width of the sleeve. IMG_3141 The back panel was placed on the fold so I had plenty of fabric to play with.  I just had to reduce the ‘swing’ of the jacket by about 2-3cm. IMG_3142 The front panel worked but it did mean that I had to include the buttons.  Again I reduced the ‘swing’ of the jacket by about 2-3cm. This was the point that I realised it probably wasn’t going to look much like the Ruffle-Front Jacket.  I think it’s a case of just going with it.  I experimented with adding the double cuffs onto the end of the sleeves but that didn’t work very well.  They were too stiff and the overall jacket is very soft and draped.


In the end, it morphed into a very girlie blouse!


Instead of running the facing along the neckline and down the front, I stopped it at the neckline and drew up a bow at the front.  I used some floral  Liberty London fabric for the neck facing, you can just about see it peaking through. IMG_3219 I decided that the button and buttonholes were too good to loose so I just replaced the buttons with some self covered buttons in the Liberty London fabric. IMG_3228 IMG_3216 IMG_3221 I am pretty pleased with the results.  I think the contrast between the geometric herringbone and the random floral fabric works really well. What do you think, is it a successful refashion?

Going for Gold!

or could it be rose-gold, bronze or just metallic? Well whatever you call it, it’s fabulous!

I love a sweatshirt – especially one with gold shoulder panels.

I bought this small piece of stretch metallic-coated jersey so long ago I can’t even remember when.  I do know it was in the remnant bin at Tessuti Fabric and it had my name written all over it.

It works perfectly as an embellishment, any more than a hint of it and you are blinded by bling.  This is why I thought some shoulder panels were the answer for my sweatshirt.

The rough shoulder panel pattern piece

My pattern is a self-drafted raglan sleeve sweatshirt, so I re-drew the top part of the raglan sleeve.  I measured from where I thought the neckline would start to the edge of my shoulder, about 12cm.  It was very rough and highly inaccurate and on second thoughts it should have been a bit smaller, probably closer to 8cm.

I also cut the neckline quite wide, as I often find it’s too high around my neck and looks quite masculine.  I then added the ribbing in the blue/grey marle.  It’s a much wider rib than I would normally add but I think it needed it to balance out the shoulders panels.

It’s a pretty easy construction from then on.  The main fabric is a light grey fleece from The Remnant Warehouse.  I really wanted something warm and cosy and this does the job, it’s super thick.  You will probably recognise it, I used it to make a sweatshirt for Bertie a couple of months ago.

My Bernina overlocker – one of the loves of my life!
Just one more hint of gold!

And the final piece is the waistband, one more flash of gold – I just couldn’t help myself.

It’s still so cold over here, I expect to get a few more months wear out of this one yet!

Gotta love a stripe!

Great charity shop find!
Great charity shop find!

I bought this top in the charity shop a while back.  Once a shapeless striped tunic or maybe mini dress, it had ‘possibility’ written all over it! The fabric was great quality, I couldn’t leave it behind, a heavy jersey knit in a bright mint green and navy.  Ripe for an up cycle.

Of course, I had to make a sweatshirt and as usual Bertie was the lucky recipient.  There was enough fabric to make the front and sleeves, for the back I used a plain navy knit. I used a navy ribbing on the neck, cuffs and waistband.  Again, I worked from the Brindille and Twig Raglan Sweatshirt pattern. I think he has been wearing it for about a year now.  It still looks great and has washed really well.

The raglan sleeve sweatshirt
The raglan sleeve sweatshirt and notice the parsley pants with knee patches (patches are made from an old baby-grow) – just can’t help this up cycling…
Notice the lack of pattern matching on the sleeves... oh dear!
Notice the lack of pattern matching on the sleeves… oh dear!

I stumbled upon a few pieces of this fabric last week in my (giant) box of scraps. While churning out another self drafted sweatshirt for Monty, I thought I might just use it up.

A self-drafted raglan sleeve sweatshirt - this one has endless possibilities
A self-drafted raglan sleeve sweatshirt – this one has endless possibilities
I added a row of stitching between the shoulder pad and sleeve to flatten and re-inforce the seam.  It looks good too!
I added a row of stitching between the shoulder pad and sleeve to flatten and re-inforce the seam. It looks good too!

I think it’s a success, the shoulder pads add that bit of interest to an essentially boring raglan sleeve sweatshirt.  And yet again, Bertie manages to match one of his big brothers.

Woo hoo, I love an up cycle, it gives me a huge sense of satisfaction – sad, I know!