My favourite makes

Here’s a post I’ve been thinking about for a good long while. I really enjoying reading posts about the wearability of the garments we make – what I mean is a reflection on which of our makes we wear all the time and which ones never see the light of day (and for what reason). It’s lovely to see freshly made garments and how happy (or not) the seamstress is with it but I think it’s also good to hear someone’s opinion on that garment after they’ve been wearing it for a while. Personally, I often re-read my finished project posts a while later and have changed my mind on a few things. So here we are – a review of my favourite makes as well as a couple that have fallen by the wayside!

  • First up is my absolute favourite of all time – Vogue 1194
My favourite dress - Vogue 1194

My favourite dress – Vogue 1194

…. made up in viscose/lycra jersey. It’s by far my most worn make and I wear it a couple of times a week in winter. I’m a big fan of dress/tights/boots when it’s cold so this is perfect. It’s so comfortable but so stylish too. I’m planning to make another one in bamboo jersey (a bit of drape is a must for this design) but probably next winter.

McCall's 5525

…. this is such a great jacket for the mild climate here in Crete. I’ve worn it so much and I still adore the colour. My only problem is that I used a bad quality lining and I need to do some repairs!

Butterick 5562


…. these two tops have been really useful perhaps because they’re not clingy or form fitting so my post pregnancy self feels more comfortable in them.

Vogue 8379

…. I’ve worn this one a lot as it’s been a useful throw on dress that has accommodated pregnancy/breastfeeding figure changes. I’m not really that happy with it – the waist is annoyingly high which is amazing as I’m very short waisted – but it’s useful all the same. I’m going to make another one and lower the waist seam because apart from it being annoying when it’s too high, I’ve realised that seams at my natural waist are not flattering at all on me and just a touch lower looks so much better.

HotPatterns and Peachy Beachy Cover-up - refashioned from a bathrobe!

HotPatterns and Peachy Beachy Cover-up – refashioned from a bathrobe!

Now onto those that I don’t wear.

  • Here is my beloved Hot Pattern Uptown Downtown dress (can you tell that I love HotPatterns!) made up in the most scrumtious purple viscose jersey. Whyever don’t you wear it I hear you cry! That colour looks great on you! Yes, I know, I adore the colour and the idea of the dress but it has one problem – the neckline does not stay smooth as in the photo when I’m wearing it. It bunches up, I spend the whole time fiddling with it and it drives me crazy. So this lovely dress is destined for the refashioning pile :( But if anyone knows of any way to save it before I cut it up and use the fabric on another project, then let me know!


  • Another dress I never wear is Vogue 1179. It’s a great dress but red is just not my colour. I don’t think it suits me and so don’t feel at all comfortable wearing such an eye-catching dress. I will make it again though soon as it’s a fun adn easy dress to make.


So that’s it! Well, there are a few other things I’ve made but I’ll save them for another time. I hope you enjoyed reading my little review!

And as a final note – Karen if you’re reading, I wear my apron ALL THE TIME! I love it!

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Fabric fabric fabric! I always enjoy looking at fabric other people have been getting so I thought I’d show you a few bits I’ve managed to get my hands on over the past few months! Here we go….. on the left above is viscose twill lining and on the right is viscose dress weight lining (both from Stone Fabrics). In the middle is the most gorgeous stretch cotton twill from Ditto Fabrics. I love love love it – it’s my absolute favourite colour and the quality is supreme.

Here’s what I’m planning to make – a very chic trench coat from the October 2012 La Mia Boutique. I fell in love with this pattern the minute I saw it and knew it would be perfect for my beloved cotton twill. I don’t speak Italian but I’ve already made one trench coat so I think that’ll help and it’s a fun way to learn a bit of Italian too. I’m not going to do the piping as I think it’d be lost on my fabric and I don’t fancy a lighter contrasting piping so that will make construction even easier.

I haven’t quite decided which side of the lining to use – it has a purpley side and then a slightly lighter, pinkier side.

Next up is a lovely drapey viscose (also from Ditto) in a beautiful heathery purple. I’m thinking some kind of summer dress but not really sure on the pattern yet. On the left is some white silk habotai lining.

Here we’ve got a good few children’s fabrics for me to make some cute outfit for the kiddies. The smaller pieces are all hard-to-find ribbing I’ll use for cuffs and necklines and the three on the botton are sweatshirting. The ribbing and the blue piece are from Dots N Stripes and the bottom two are from Ditto. The fabric from Dots N Stripes are all 100% cotton and fabulously soft. The ditto fabric has lycra and seems to stretch more on the lengthwise grain – I’ve never seen that before… is that common? I guess I’ll have to be careful with pattern layout for those ones to make sure I get the stretch where I want it.

These are both jerseys – about a metre or so of each. On the left is viscose and on the right is a heavy-ish cotton interlock. Something pretty for my daughter or my niece is the plan here.

That’s it for fabric but I also got some 100% rayon grosgrain ribbon from Stone Fabrics for waist stays and zip guards. The woman I dealt with was fantastic and I left it to her to chose the colours and I’m very pleased with them. I received excellent service from Stone, Ditto and Dots N Stripes and they all have great quality stuff.

So that’s it! I love day-dreaming about all the things I’m going to make and feeling inspired by all this lovely fabric. Now I just have to find the time to actually sew some of it!

Apronalong – Butterick 4087 Retro Apron

Isn’t sewing fantastic? Even the simplest of projects can make you as proud as punch.

I absolutely adore my apron and it was such fun to sew too. Well done Karen for organising the Apronalong……. indeed, if she hadn’t, this poor little pattern would still be languishing in my stash and I would be apronless. I’ve had this pattern (Butterick 4087) for a good 10 years and amazingly this is the same fabric I bought back then with the pattern with the intention of making up a lovely retro apron. Well 10 years later, here it is and I think I did a much better job sewing it than I would have back then so maybe it was all for the best!

Let me gush over the details…….

Gold ric rac!

Beautiful on the inside too ……. gold polka dot ribbon; ties and waistband lined with sheeting in a warm cream colour (I interfaced the waistband too to give it a little extra support)

Seam finish on the lower section and bias tape finish a la Amanda

So, there we are. The cutest little apron for miles around.

By the way, I’m wearing my all time favourite dress – Vogue 1194 made up in viscose/lycra jersey. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a comfortable but stylish dress – I practically live in mine in winter (take a look at my review on Pattern Review) and plan on making up another one very very soon.

PJ Party!

Here are my PJs!!! Ok, I’m not wearing them and jumping up and down on my bed but I think you’ll forgive me just this once – in spirit I’m there! Plus, they don’t technically fit me very well at the moment because of my growing tummy but in August they will I’m sure. Fingers crossed anyway!

Karen cunningly threw a giveaway into the mix as an incentive to finish our PJs and I’m glad she did because I would have almost certainly fallen by the wayside on this one. But here they are – PJ trousers from Burda World of Fashion Magazine (as it was then) 12/2006 Model 125.

This is the first time I’ve attempted anything resembling trousers and it was great as a first step. I consider this version a test of the pattern really – I was very very slovenly in my sewing. It reminded me of when I first started sewing and cut a lot of corners! I must say though that I prefer the way I sew now – I enjoy it more and the end product is much better….. I am a perfectionist so I guess that shouldn’t really surprise me! Anyway, back to the PJ – it’s a cute little pattern and I’ll definitely play around and experiment with it in the future.

I made a few changes too. Firstly, I shortened them to knee level and therefore I didn’t add the cuff at the hem along with piping that the pattern called for. I did this to save time really but also I want to be able to wear them in the heat of the summer here. Also, I took inspiration from a pair of PJs I’ve already got and I added elastic at the back and a drawstring at the front. This for me is the most comfortable I think and you get the best of both worlds. Don’t ask me how I did it though because ‘I just bodged it’ would be the answer! I will work out a better way to do it for version 2 that’s for sure.

Anyway, I’m happy with my PJs and it was fun to sew-along with Karen.  So, thank you Karen for organising our little party!

The Classic Wrap Dress – Vogue 8379

This pattern is a classic and it really does deserve the glowing reviews on Pattern Review. It’s taken me 10 years to get round to making this dress – this was the first vogue pattern I ever bought – but I’m glad I decided to make it up because it really is a great wrap dress. I’ve wanted a wrap dress for as long as I can remember as they seem both flattering and practical so I’m glad I’ve finally got one!

Fabric: A synthetic mix knit – most probably viscose/polyester but with no lycra. Not super stretchy but with a nice drape without being clingy. I squeezed this dress out of 2m (2 1/4 yards) – see below for the alterations I made.

Pattern and construction notes:

I made up a 10 in the shoulders and bust and then out to a 14 waist and hip.

I shortened the bodice between shoulder and bustline by 3/8″ but I didn’t make my usual alteration to shorten between bustline and waist (I usually shorten the bodice by another 1″ or so) as nearly all the reviews emphasise how short waisted this pattern is. It fits perfectly so it’s definitely something to bear in mind when you’re making your flat pattern alterations.

I made my usual broad back alterations – I cut a size 12 back armhole and adjusted the sleeve cap accordingly. Take a look at this Threads article – it’s taken from Sandra Betzina’s Fast Fit alterations book which is great book and has taught me a lot about pattern alterations including the importance of flat pattern measurements. I also have Fit for Real People by Palmer and Alto which is also good – these two books have slightly different approaches but they are both extremely helpful and complement each other. I’d say I probably prefer Sandra Betzina’s approach as I really am not a fan of tissue fitting, but it’s great to have another perspective on the same fitting issue.

The other changes I made were to make it long-sleeved as I find it more practical for colder days and I also took 15″ of fullness out of the skirt due to fabric constaints. I shortened the hem but 1 1/2″ and I sewed the hem using my double needle – I had no desire to hem this dress by hand!

A little tip that I’ve picked up from the HotPatterns I’ve made up is to get all the little jobs out of the way before you start major constuction. For example, I applied all the interfacing, joined the facing pieces, made the belt and collar all before I started constructing the dress. I find it extremely frustrating to have to do these little jobs in the middle of construction when you’re on a roll and enjoying that feeling of it all coming together and taking shape. It means you have to study the constuction before you begin but I think that’s a good habit to get into anyway. I used to be so impatient when I sewed as I just wanted to be able to wear what I was making. But slowly I realised that if I don’t do things properly, or don’t correct my mistakes (if possible!) as I go along, I won’t be happy with the result and I won’t wear it.

The only thing I’m unhappy with on this dress is the neckline – it stretched out and the facing rolls to the outside. I topstitched the neckline to try to keep the facings in place which has helped but it still gapes. I must confess that I forgot to shorten the facing when I altered the bodice and sleeve pieces so I dare say that played it’s part too in the neckline not lying as it should! Anyway, next time I’m going to try stabilizing the neckline with clear elastic or go for a bound neckline (as used here by Ann at Gorgeous Fabrics) on a collarless version.

I’ve haven’t taken any photos of the dress on my because I’m 5 months pregnant (Yay!) and the wrap silouette is lost really! So, when I’ve got my waist back and the weather has turned autumnal here I’ll update the post with some photos on me!

Overall, it’s a great pattern and I’m sure I’ll make many more!


The sweetest little sweatshirt dress!

BurdaStyle Magazine 12/2011 model 141

As soon as I saw this little dress in the December issue of BurdaSyle Magazine, I knew I wanted to make it up immediately and here we are… I’ve made three! I still love it and I hope it’ll be a wearable dress for my nieces. I got the sweatshirting and the co-ordinating rib knit from Dots N Stripes in the UK and it is great quality stuff – so soft!

Close-up of pocket

Here’s the first one I made out off an unwanted sweatshirt:

The original sweatshirt (I'd already cut off the ribbing)

I’d had the sweatshirt for a good few years and liked it in theory but it was just too big and didn’t really look good on me. So, when I saw this pattern I thought it would be a perfect refashion – I’ve discovered a passion for refashioning and recycling fabric and trims I never new I had!

Overall, it’s a great little pattern and I really enjoyed sewing up these little dresses. It’s very quick and easy to sew, especially if you’ve sewn knits with hem bands before. I’d definitely recommend it if you’ve got the December 2011 issue of BurdaStyle.

Butterick 5562

I’ve finally got round to taking photos of this top! I made it way back in October and since then I’ve worn it a lot. It’s View D of Butterick 5562 and it’s a great top despite the awful pattern envelope sketch! It’s quite a distinctive top but it’s very wearable and comfortable too. It’s also very easy to make but gets disbelieving stares when I say I made it myself. I guess it must look more complicated to make than it really is!

Fabric: I used a lovely rib knit jersey in a soft heather colour from Ditto Fabrics in the UK. One thing I would say about fabric choice is that the design makes it impossible to wear anything over the top so think about this when you’re choosing your fabric. If you want a winter top (and this is a particualrly good one for winter because it keeps your arms nice and warm!) then you’ll need a more substantial knit or a sweater knit.

Pattern changes:

I made up a SMALL in the shoulders and then out to a MEDIUM for the waist and hips. There is a lot of ease in this pattern (plus the fact that my jersey is very stretchy) so I took in the side seams a good 1/2″ on each side at the waist and maybe a bit less at the high hip and hip. There’s also no real shaping of the side seams so I used my Jalie 2921 Scarf-Collar Tops pattern to reshape them because it was pretty unflattering when sewn as per pattern.

The other thing I changed was how the elastic was sewn into the collar. Amanda from Amanda’s Adventures in Sewing made up a lovely stripey version of this top (her version made me buy the pattern) and she used french seams in the collar and then used that as a channel for the elastic. I did just the same and it worked out well.

I took a good 1 1/2″ off the hem – I originally kept the hem length of the pattern but it really didn’t look very good and I think the proportions are better with this length.

I found that the shoulder curve on the shawl collar was very square so I smoothed it out quite a bit. I’m not sure whether this is the pattern or whether it’s an indication that I’ve got sloping shoulders! I’ll keep my eyes open for that in future.

Overall, it’s a great top and I’m sure I’ll get lots of wear out of it.

Sewaholic Renfrew!

This is my version of Sewaholic’s newest pattern, the Renfrew Tops! I was chosen to be a pattern tester and I made up view A, which is the extremely flattering scoop neck with long sleeves. I was really tempted by the cowl neck version but I was determined to make a ‘winter basic’ as nearly every time I get dressed I vow to make some plain long sleeved tops. It was such fun testing the pattern and I enjoyed taking part! Tasia runs her pattern line and blog with such grace and professionalism and the whole pattern testing process ran extremely smoothly.

I used a rayon/lycra jersey, which worked fine but it is a little drapey and clingy around the tummy area so I think I’ll make up my next version in a sturdier jersey or maybe in an interlock. Even though I’m not a huge cowl-neck fan (on me) I can’t resist this cowl neck top and I hope I’ll manage to make it up soon!

It’s a great pattern and I love the mix of necklines – a scoop neck, a v-neck and a cowl neck.  It’s also extremely well drafted and Tasia has put a lot of thought into making it as easy as possible to sew knits and avoid some of the classic problems associated with knits. To tell you the truth, I think as long as you take care to cut on-grain and chose a knit that has some lycra and good recovery, you won’t have any problems with wavy hems on knits. Having said that though, I know that a lot of people haven’t ever sewn with knits because they think it’ll be difficult so I think this is a great pattern to test the water and see that it’s really quite easy. I have one piece of advice for sewing knits: I hand baste a line of thread down one of the ribs on the right side (in the middle of the fabric or wherever you’re going to place the fold) and used that as my fold guideline. This really helps you cut the pattern on-grain and avoid a lot of headaches. By the way, I should add that I haven’t got an overlocker/serger and sew knits with no problem on my machine. Just make sure you use Stretch needles (or ballpoint needles for knits without lycra) and use a narrow zig-zag stitch.

Overall it’s a fantastic pattern and I’m sure I’ll be making up lots of them. Well done Tasia over at Sewaholic!

Teal Trench – McCall’s 5525

Here is my rendition of the popular McCall’s 5525 trench. I love it! It’s such a bright, happy colour and I absolutely adore it!

This is the first outerwear garment I’ve made and I enjoyed taking each step at a time and watching it slowing develop into a lovely jacket. I made a muslin (toile) for this, well, two in fact and I made a LOT of alterations to the pattern. I’m beginning to get used to the alterations I have to make for the Big 4 patterns and I’m pleased with the fit of this jacket.

Pattern and Sizing       McCall’s 5525 – I made View C without the back yoke, right front yoke and shoulder tabs. I made a size 10 shoulders and bust and then out to a 14 for the waist and hips. My measurements correspond more with a 12 bust and 14/16 waist and hip but when I made up the size 12 muslin it was far too big in the shoulders and a 14/16 body would have been very roomy.

Fabric   I used 2.3m (2 1/2 yards) of teal green stretch cotton twill and a couple of metres of grey rayon lining. The twill was a lovely fabric to work with but I nearly gave up before I’d even started as I just could get it to stay on grain for me to cut it accuately – it kept springing back off grain! I managed it though and I’ve got no problems with twisting seams so that’s good! I had less fabric than the recommended amount on the pattern envelope but it was fine. The only thing that I had to do was piece the belt so there are a couple more seams than would normally be there but I doubt that anyone will notice! (except sewists of course!)

Pattern alterations

Here’s a list of my classic alterations and the methods I used:

  • Short upper chest – I took out 1/2″ between shoulder and bust on front, back and sleeve pieces.
  • Short waist – I took another 3/4″ off between the bust and waist. I’m short-waisted so these are pretty standard adjustments for me.
  • Total length – I’m not sure whether this qualifies as an adjustment as I didn’t actually do anything but I purposely didn’t compensate for the above adjustments by lengthening the pattern below the waist as I wanted the trench to finish just above my hip. The muslin finished right on my hip which wasn’t very flattering.
  • Broad Back Adjustment – Lately I’ve been using Sandra Betzina’s method from Fast Fit  (Threads article here) which involves cutting a larger size on the back armhole only (and therefore on the back sleeve) and I like how it worked out here. I cut a 14 back armhole and it gave me just the right amount to room to avoid that annoying pulling feeling I get constantly from RTW. I have also tried Palmer and Alto’s Fit For Real People’s (FFRP)  technique which is good but here I would have found it difficult to ease in the extra on the back shoulder and I certainly didn’t want to put in a dart.
  • Rounded Back Adjustment – 3/8″ using FFRP technique.

I’ve played around a lot with the forward shoulder adjustment in the past but didn’t use it here as I wanted to see if the high round back solved the problem. Still not sure but it’s certainly better than without any alteration.

In terms of construction, I used a weft-insertion interfacing from Gill Arnold instead of the sew-in stated on the pattern. It worked fine because it’s a good quality one and it supports the fashion fabric without affecting the drape or feel of the fabric. I accidentally interfaced both sides of the collar and stand and I’m glad I did because it needs the extra support I think. I also interfaced the lapel and collar area of the facing as well as the front piece because that also needs support. I did this after I’d attached the collar so it was a bit of a tricky job but next time I will definitely interface that area beforehand, it’s worth it.

Overall, I’m very happy with my trench and I love this pattern. It’s so versatile yet so classic and I can see myself coming back to it again and again. One day I’ll make a longer version in a deep purple wool with bound button holes and I’ll try my hand at a bit of tailoring. I really did love the process of making this jacket though – I’m a perfectionist and I enjoyed focusing on each little step and getting it right before moving on instead of rushing through and not being happy with the result.

By the way, if you’re into crochet or thinking of taking it up, take a look at The Crimson Owl’s Convertible Cowl pattern – it’s great for beginners (like me!) and it’s both stylish and practical. I’ve already made 3 including the purple one in these photos!


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