Hello everyone. It’s Sunday and I’m finally sitting down after a week at Centre Parcs where 4 our of 6 family members had stomach bugs and after a busy but brilliant trip to the Dressmaker’s Ball in Leicester. I thought writing a blog post might be nice and soothing!
You’ve seen a version of this dress before in very unlike me colours… I made a gorgeous purple and orange shell print version shown below. I don’t wear it as often as I should because I can never find my nude underwear… wow life is tough right?
A quick reminder it’s an old New Look pattern I got from sewingpatterns.com to print at home. It’s an absolute pain in the butt to sort as you need special software and a licence code and there’s a limit on the number of prints allowed.
There’s a slight problem with these photos in that I’ve put on a bit of weight since I made the dress. So its tighter than it should be. I made a size 8 around the upper body and a 12 at the waist like last time. But I should have gone up to a 14 I think as it cuts in a little tighter than I hoped. A reminder for you, my measurements are currently 36A, 31, 42. I think I was a 30″ waist when I made the first dress.
The dress is so lovely to construct. I of course ditched the pencil skirt for a gathered style and this time added pockets. The only tricky part is clipping and notching the scallops properly so they turn through neatly. You need to be super accurate at getting close to but not clipping through the stitching line.
This soft and rich coloured blue chambray has tiny bicycles in it! It’s from Empress Mills currently priced £8.55. They have a few different chambray prints plus I’m in love with the jerseys they have. The bicycles are nice to wear given I’m married to a cycling fanatic who smiles when I wear it and the warm blue colour pairs perfectly with winter tights and cardigans or sandals and sunglasses!
The zipper that I installed perfectly, and matches across both waistband seams is mocking me here by stretching under my weight gain. Super annoying when I worked so hard to install it. I mean I’m still wearing it don’t get me wrong, I just hate how its pulling at the moment.
But hello, its mega cute and I’m sure I can lose an inch on my waist. If not I’ll unpick and let out the side seams. I’m not letting this pretty dress sit in my closet unworn. Maybe it’s also time for me to try another view of the pattern? It couldn’t hurt right?
I’ve been chained to my sewing room table for days but instead of sewing for myself I’m still chugging away on my best friend’s wedding dress. It’s nearly ready but the hours of hand sewing are still etched in my memory. Only a few weeks to go!
In the mean time I’m happy to share this cheeky dress. Originally sewn in 2016 I made this dress rather big so during last year’s Sewing Weekender I took it in all over. It’s taken me a year to blog it but it’s so much fun to wear.
The dress is a Threadcount pattern that appeared on Sewing Made Simple magazine a couple of year’s back with sweetheart neckline, gathered skirt and optional cap sleeves. The dress comes together a little oddly with grown on facings at the sides of the neckline and a facing piece attached to the centre neckline. It looks neat inside but was a funny way to put things together. It was a head scratcher for how to overlock neatly so I just finish each edge individually.
I made the XS but there is a lot of ease so I had to grade down by guess work to fit a 36A” bust. I took in a bit at the sides, a lot at the princess seams and some at the centre back. Remember I’m a 32″ waist so for me to be reducing an XS it’s definitely got some ease involved. The pattern has gathering only at the centre front of the skirt but I think that would make the wearer look portly adding bulk at a commonly rounded area on most ladies! As you can see I spread the gathers evenly.
My fabric is the real star of the piece. At first glance this pretty blue stretch denim looks like a simple abstract floral print but as you look closer you see charming cat faces!! Secret cats hiding amongst the flowers!! It’s the perfect mix of shades of blue too. Eeek.
This medium-weight denim was nestled in a bargain bin at Abakhan and there was a large piece I split with my boss who is a fellow cat lady. This meant it was priced by it’s weight and a total bargain. For an unlined dress is just passable but I had to reduce a lot of bulk from the waist seam to help ease the zipper area.
There’s nothing like sewing the last stitch on a big project. I finished my jeans and immediately laid them out on the floor to gawk over. (I’m a loser.)
Where shall I start… this yummy denim is from Birmingham rag market (from that day I went insane and bought ALL THE fabric). It feels very good quality, has a slight sheen with gorgeous orange undertones. The fabric is almost completely orange on the reverse – the magic of a twill weave. The denim might be a touch thin for jeans but I think it works ok. The fit is good enough for me too.
For my topstitching I actually used two spools of regular thread fed into one needle as I had an orange I wanted to use rather than a thicker topstitch weight. I love my pocket arches!
This is my (sort of) second pair of jeans. My first pair never made it onto the blog because the denim was awful quality and I never wore them. When I finished this new pair I threw the old pair out.
I used Kenneth D King’s Jean-ius course on Craftsy which is absolutely fantastic and educational. To put it simply, you make a pattern by copying your favourite jeans and get the chance to make fit adjustments and customisations! My original jeans are the Topshop straight leg “Martha” style which they dont make any more. Thanks to KDK I don’t have to stress about that anymore!
In case you don’t know, Kenneth is very well mannered with a no nonsense attitude. He points out that sewing shouldn’t be a series of rigid rules you must follow; there are lots of ways to get things done.
So it wouldnt surprise him that I did my own thing a couple of times during the making of the jeans!
1. I changed the construction order so I could topstitch my inseam, NOT my outside leg seam. My RTW pair had this styling and I think it makes them look smarter.
2. I made a larger fly shield compared to the one KDK suggested and I honestly regret not making it even bigger! It’s about 1cm smaller than I would like.
In terms of the course modules, the drafting of the copy was pretty easy, if a little time consuming. I’ve done rub offs with tracing paper before (using Steffani Lincecum’s technique – she’s also a Craftsy instructor but I have her book) but organza is best if you can afford it every time!
FACT: KDK’s fly front zipper tutorial is impeccable. Seriously good stuff.
But that said; I would have liked to learn a bit more about topstitching. Namely there’s no mention of topstitching the outer edge of the fly, just the curve and crotch seam (from below the zip). I couldn’t work out at which stage I should be topstitching that part – possibly just after installing the fly facing and stopping where the zip should stop? I think that element being missing sets of a little niggle in your brain that the jeans don’t look 100% right but you can’t put your finger on why. Or is that just me?
And I know how to do flatfelled seams from my shirt making, but we didn’t learn them in the Craftsy course!? That’s jean-making 101 in my mind.
Also I’m mad at myself for choosing my zip poorly. The pull is too large so it peeks out a little and also makes the fly bulge. At least I’ll know for next time and it’s easily resolvable.
Oh yes there will be a next time. There is some lovely quality denim online at The Splendid Stitch, with a good dark navy colour and small degree of stretch. I have plans for pockets with flaps this time too. And a cute coin pocket which I do like seeing on jeans though I have NEVER used one haha. Have you ever used yours?
I suppose I ought to add that I used two machines for this project. I had my Toyota jeans machine threaded up with black and my Janome SMD4000 threaded with orange. This made things much quicker as I could jump between the two machines without the delay of re-threading.
But I don’t expect everyone out there to have a second machine. I just hung onto my original machine when I upgraded, in the hope I’d one day have space for them both. I do recommend it if you have space. It’s very useful to have a machine threaded up with another colour for random emergency sewing or projects like this.
So who else has tried the Jean-ius course? There’s a good review on Amy’s blog. I know a lot of people have made the Ginger jeans as my feed has been full of great versions and Katie wows me on a regular basis with her jean sewing!