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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!

Welcome to my new blog!

Welcome to my new sewing blog. Very exciting for me! I hope you’ll like it too. I thought I’d show you some pictures of a few things I’ve sewn to break the ice a bit and also for me to get used to this blogging thing! So without further ado, here they are:


My favourite dress in super soft rayon/lycra jersey – Vogue 1194

A stylish summer dress in silk/cotton lawn – Vogue 1228

HotPatterns 1071  A Sunshine Dress in drapey viscose/lycra jersey

Simplicity 2497 (view B) in a beautiful silk charmeuse

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

Version 2 of the HotPatterns cover-up made up in cotton lawn

Hope you liked them!  I loved making them and I’m looking forward to sharing the things I make in a bit more detail in the future. My next post will be on my gorgeous new coat – McCall’s 5525 in a lovely teal green cotton twill! Heaven!

Plenty of detail on these bits and bobs as well as a few more things I’ve made can be found on my PatternReview page.


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