A plaid tailored jacket for PR Sewing Bee round 3

I’m still burnt out after making this in 9 days (mostly evenings), 2 of which were spent on fitting the pattern, but I wanted to share it because I’m extremely proud of it.

There are many details in my PR review so I won’t bore you with more text, even though I could probably write at least 2 lengthy posts about this week.

2 bound buttonholes – one of them is almost invisiblle

Perfectly matching pocket flap

Almost perfectly matching welt

I underlined the bias cut velvet collar with a piece of interfaced light cotton

Insides before lining

Inside out – satin silk lining from the cloth house sale – £4/m

aligned horizontal lines

aligned vertical lines

Could’ve done better on the back

I absolutely love it!

I hope I get through to the final round (will find out tomorrow) and the last challenge is a pair of trousers. I’ve had a gorgeous pair of Burda (again!) jeans on my list for 2 years. :D

Make the fabric your own – The reveal

I started quilting my fabric on Saturday morning. As I went along, it was becoming more and more apparent it wasn’t going to be a skirt. It couldn’t, it was just too stiff, so I had to come up with plan B. The obvious garment for the fabric was a simple jacket, but I didn’t have enough fabric for sleeves, nor did I want such a bulky fabric around my arms. I stopped half way through the quilting and made a trip to Goldhawk Road, entered the first shop and asked for fake leather, they had a perfect dark brown which I bought and ran back home. There went two hours I could’ve spent sewing, but at least the weather was nice and I got to see the sun.

I wanted to finish the jacket and take the pictures on Sunday even though the deadline is Tuesday night, but it was my only chance to take pictures in daylight. I woke up early and started a muslin on Burda 126-08-2014. No collar, no pockets, just the front, back and 2 piece sleeve. I’m really happy I took the time to test the pattern, there were a lot of changes I needed to do – narrow the shoulders, lift the right side at the shoulder front on the neck side, shorten the armscye and sleeve cap (which I think would’ve looked better if I kept the cap sleeve length and changed only the width to make it fit the new armscye length), lengthen the bodice below the waist, widened the neckline, and I think that’s it. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough for a 1 day jacket. Next time I’ll do better.

The front pattern had a bust dart but the fabric was too bulky to add a dart. I gathered the wool at the sides around the dart area and steamed it shorter. So even thought there are no darts the bust area is shaped nicely.

I trimmed the neckline, center front and hem with strips of the fake leather I used for the sleeves. The side seams match and the seam allowances are bound with the silk I quilted the wool on.

This felt like a marathon, I am sew exhausted now. I’ll go have another glass of wine and not sew for another week. Here are ‘a few’ pictures of the end result which make me really happy. I think it was worth it.

‘Make the fabric your own’ – the second round of Pattern Review Sewing Bee

The announcement for the second challenge left me stumped. ‘Embellish or alter some fabric to make it your own’. Aha. Ok. What now?

I think painting could’ve been the quickest, and with some decent skills can be pretty impressing (see here). I stress the ‘I think’ because I’ve never done it so I have no idea. I’d like to try it at some point, but a limited time challenge wasn’t the right moment to start.

My mind was set on boiled wool and I wanted to make a jacket. I thought about applique, reverse applique, discreet or full on Alabama Chanin, yarn stitching and needle felting, cross stitching at the hems or around all edges but I couldn’t imagine any of these ending up like something I’d wear.

I then went through my fall sewing list (mentally, I don’t have it on paper) and remembered (this post helped) I wanted to make a tartan half circle skirt. Still with the boiled wool in mind I decided to give it a try. My initial plan as to use dark green, navy and black, to simulate the black watch tartan. But I didn’t find the right colours in the shop (Saeed in Waltamstow, I knew they had boiled wool) and online shopping wasn’t an option given the time constraints. I looked at all the wools for probably half an hour before I picked dark green, brown and cream.

I cut strips of 1/2, 1 and 2 inches and started weaving them. It was a long and tedious project, trying to keep everything square and in place, so a lot of pinning an basting happened. I finally finished tonight and I now have a cosy little blanket, roughly 145cm X 75cm.

more fun awaits, all those basting threads need to disappear

This is going to be quilted tomorrow on a piece of silk, I’m going to topstitch all strips edges, so I expect to go through a lot of bobbins. I’ll load half a dozen before I begin :). I quilted a small sample tonight and it looks like the final fabric might be a little too stiff. I’ll still try a half circle skirt, and if it’s too Judy Jetson, I’ll just chop the flare off and make it a-line. We’ll see!

quilted sample

I’ll have to try and keep the skirt clean for as long as possible. Drying the fabric in one layer took 2 days. I can’t imagine how long it will take now with 2 woven layers and the lining stitched to them.

I’m happy with my idea and how things look so far, but after working on it every night this week my view is meant to be biased. There’s no time to edit though, we just have to go with our gut. I would’ve never tried something like this if it wasn’t for this contest, so there’s a win right there (cliche, I know), I stretched myself to come up with a concept and put it in practice.

Pattern Review Sewing Bee – The JJ made it to round2!!!

My top made it to round two!! There were almost 150 entries, most of them very good, and I’m one of the lucky 50 who were selected to continue.

I have never used such a delicate fabric, I have always avoided it because it’s so daunting. However, I knew that if I wanted to have a chance to go to the next round, I had to challenge myself. I starched the fabric to make it a little stiff and easier to cut and sew. I then carefully stitched the vertical seams to check the fit. I wanted to treat this fabric with the care it deserved, so I finished the seams with the fake french method. All vertical seams and the shoulder seams are finished like that. The neckline and sleeves binding are hand stitched to the back of the blouse and the hem is hand rolled. Because of the gathers, I couldn’t fake french the sleeve seam at the armscye, so I ran a double line of stitching 1/4inch apart and then ran a wide and long zig zag around to prevent unraveling. The blouse closes with 6 bobble buttons spaced ever 2.5 inches. The button bands are cut with the fronts and folded twice. There is no topstiching, the buttonholes, buttons and top binding plus hem hold the bands folded. I chose to do this so the blouse remains as delicate as possible, with no visible seams. The buttonholes are the only stitches that are visible from the right side of the blouse.

I must say it is the nicest blouse I have ever had/worn. It feels very soft against the skin and it flows and moves with the body.

For round 2 we need to make the fabric our own. I thought about applique, reverse applique, couching, quilting, but in the end decided to do some sort of weaving. It’s not something I’ve seen or done before, so I’m not sure how good it will look in the end, but I decided to take this risk. We’ll see how it goes.

A spotty JJ for PR sewing bee

A few weeks ago the new PR Sewing Bee contest was announced and I decided to join. I don’t remember why I didn’t enter last year, but I did watch it and it seemed like a lot of fun. Contests and challenges are big motivators for me, so this year I say ‘Bring it on!’

The first round challenge started yesterday and I did not expect a fitted blouse as the first project. They are supposed to get more complex every week, so I wonder – will a tailored jacket be the last challenge? :D

I am going to make another BurdaStyle JJ – I’ve made it before and it fits nice. I am a little rounder than last time I made it, but I’ve made it with seam allowances a little larger than 5/8 last time and I am making it with 3/8 SA this time. There are 6 vertical seams adding up to a total difference of 3 inches, enough to fit with 1.5-2 inches of ease around the bust.

The fabric I chose is a very light satin backed silk crepe – it was a gift from a lovely friend I met online and then in real life (Servus, Olga!). I starched it to make cutting and sewing easier. It didn’t transform into quilting cotton, but it is easier to handle after starching. I don’t think the stand collar would look good in this fabric, I lowered the neckline and I will bound it with bias. The neckline is now 2 cm wider, 1 cm lower in the back and 11 cm lower in front. Somebody tried it before me successfully so I can be sure it will look nice.

I was going to make ‘real’ french seams, but I couldn’t sew the fabric with a narrow 1/4” seam allowance without it shifting under the presser foot. I am now slowly going through all the seams fake frenching them.

I want to have no visible seaming on the right side of the blouse, a lot more hand sewing will be needed  – fixing the bias on the back of the neckline, the same for sleeves (I’m not making cuffs) and invisible rolled hem. But I am on holiday and we have to stay around the house, so I have plenty of time for that.

The buttonholes will show though, not sure what I can do about that. I could’ve done loops, but I didn’t think of them early enough and now it’s too late. I have these dainty bobble buttons in red and light purple, I’m not sure which ones I’ll use yet. None of them matches perfectly, but there’s no way I can get to a haberdashery before the challenge closes. I might change them after.

Are you doing this? You can join anytime before the challenge closes on September 7th.

Simplicity 1873+1610 and Vianne – a late oal2015 outfit

I wanted to take part in the OAL this year and I actually managed to finish the cardigan on time but not the dress, which is surprising considering the amount of time needed for each.

My gauge was spot on for the cardigan, but I made a mistake I no longer make when sewing – I knit it in size M, based on my bust measurement. Therefore the cardigan is big at the shoulders and the sleeves are too wide.

For the dress I used Simplicity 1873 on top and 1610 on the bottom. I’ve made the 1610 dress before and I love that skirt – perfect pockets that stay in place and are better located than in-seam pockets (they look better too imo), plus the width of the skirt feels just right for me.

I don’t love the top though. I tried Nancy Zieman’s pivot an slide method (see video at the end) and started with size 10 based on my front shoulder measurement. I had to add quite a lot of width at the bust and waist and I’m afraid that distorted the overall shape. The top has a lot of ease above and below the bust at the sides, but at least the armhole doesn’t gape. I made a muslin and made a few other changes to the pattern after that – moved the front waist dart a few cm to the side, lowered the bust dart and removed a 1.5cm wedge for sway back. One other alteration I meant to do but somehow forgot was to add length at center front. This is not mentioned in the video but it makes sense to add some space vertically too. I did squeeze a little bit of length by reducing the seam allowance, but that was not enough and I think the proportions are off because of the bodice length. It is just too short.

Modified pattern before muslin

Front view – the too short and boxy bodice is obvious here. And notice the green on green – this is why my other pictures are inside even though it was a beautiful sunny day.

Even though I moaned all through this post, I don’t dislike and the dress and I will continue to wear it. It’s not perfect and I hope all my future projects turn out better than this, but sometimes less than perfect is enough. At least from some angles.


Since I made this I bought Nancy Zieman’s pattern fitting book, I’m not giving up on her method yet. It looks easier than other I’ve seen/tried, I hope I can make it work.

Butterick 6183 – A complete outfit

I’ve started working on this pattern right after I finished my B6168 dress. I used size 14 for the dress and narrowed the shoulders in order to avoid a FBA, but since this pattern has different cup sizes, I cut a size 12 with a C cup for the top. Most reviews say the top is snug but mine came out roomier than expected and too wide at the shoulders, even though I used N. Zieman’s method of choosing the pattern size based on the front shoulder measurement. The reason? I didn’t measure myself correctly. Duh.

There’s just one alteration I’ve made to the top pattern – I shortened 2 cm above the waist. The CB length neck to waist was over 40cm, which is huge I think even for people with a standard height. Also, I didn’t use a zip, I just left the slit opened and added a button at the top. A button that is too big and heavy for this light viscose. Anyway, this top is going to the bin unfortunately. I finished the SAs with a pinking shears and they all got shredded in the washing machine. I’ll keep this in mind when I work with similar fabric. I plan to make more tops like this, but I’ll go down a size, make the sleeves 2-3 cm shorter and add 2-3 cm at the bottom.

The trousers are size 14 – I was worried they were going to be too small, so I used 1cm (3/8″) SA at the sides and lengthened the waistband. They didn’t look so wide from the top on the pattern cover, and they didn’t look so wide in the few reviews I’ve seen either. But they are. Loose from the hip to the ankle. I’m not complaining, I’ve been wearing them 3 times a week, they are very comfortable. I think they look better with a more fitted top, like the above Tonic that’s too tight to wear with anything else.

I found it odd that the pattern instructions didn’t say anything about interfacing the zip area or the pocket openings. I had to do that because the linen I used was very loosely woven, and my pockets are already gaping anyway. Some ribbon would’ve been even better. I added a snap to the waistband to help it keep it closed.

I have a few muslins cut out, but I didn’t feel very motivated to sew or knit lately. It;s probably the recent ‘tiny pocket tank’ fail and the lovey weather outside. Do you sew much during the summer? I’d surely need more dresses and airy tops but I don’t feel like staying inside.

Butterick 6168 or Do you know how much I love Lisette?

I was only aware of the Lisette patterns before and I do have an unused (yet) Simplicity one, but my love really started with Butterick 6168. I needed this dress and I finally have it.

I did a quick muslin in size 14 and made the following alterations:

– shortened the shoulder length by 1 cm

– shortened the bodice above the bust 1 cm at the armhole to 1,5 at center front (1cm across at the back)

– 1 cm sway back

– added 2 cm to the sleeve width

– shortened the skirt by 12 cm: 7 cm at the marked line and cm at the hem. I found that when I need to shorten a large amount on a full skirt, it works best for me if I remove some of the length at the hem too, otherwise the skirt is too full compared to the design for my short figure.

Another thing I changed was to use a normal facing for the back, instead of bias. To do that, I slightly changed the sewing steps:

1. I’ve sewn the front facings only from the neckline notch toward the bottom when constructing the front

2. I’ve attached the front to the back at the shoulders and the front facing to the back facing

3. I’ve sewn the facing to the bodice from front neckline notches to centre back

The fabric is a very soft and light cotton jacquard, I think. It’s light grey on one side and dark grey on the other, with contrasting spots on each side.


I bought it from Cloth House, which is close to my office. After buying the pattern I couldn’t wait for the weekend to go looking somewhere else, and even though I wasn’t convinced with the dark color, I think it’s a good fit for the cheeky design. And it’s really so soft and light, you can see in the photos it’s always flowing.

As other reviewers have stated, the side view is not the most flattering. I could easily wear this dress half way through a pregnancy. But looking at the design as a whole, I couldn’t see the skirt attaching to the top any other way. And I can’t imagine it with a straight/a-line skirt either, unless you change the midriff band as well, and then you have to make sure you keep the design balanced. I’d really love to see someone try it.

I don’t know if I’m going to make this again, as it’s such a distinctive design, but I’m surely going to sew other Lisette patterns. Right now I’m working on some wearable muslins for B6183. Have you worked with any Lisette patterns? Do you love them as much as I do?

New Look 6145 – Do you know an architect called Maya?

One year ago – well, one year and 13 days to be exact – I went to my first sewing meetup. It was the big London meeting at V&A organised by Rachel at House of Pinheiro. I was living in London for less than a year and I didn’t know anyone there. There were so many ladies in the V&A cafe and most of them seemed to know at least 2-3 other there. I am not the most sociable person, quite the contrary, it took me a lot of courage to go there. But as it usually happens, I was very happy I went. I met many lovely sewing ladies like Amy, Jodie, Lou, Vicki and Maya. I spent most of the shopping time on Goldhawk Road with facebook-less, instagram-less, blog-less Maya, and it was her who found this fabric:

It was a 3 m piece of what I suspect is a cotton-silk blend based on a burn test. We loved it as soon as we’ve seen it but none of us was committed to buying the whole piece. So we shared it. Each of us took half and I held on to it until I found the perfect pattern.

That happened 2 months ago when I found out about Simplicity’s blogger challenge. The ‘Best dressmaking project’ category pattern was New Look 6145, a basic shift dress that not only was a perfect canvas for my special fabric, but it’s the style that Maya loved best. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had a dress similar to mine, maybe just a little more a-line.

I love this length on me, I have to make a version as long as my muslin.


I started with size 14, removed 5 cm from the skirt length and made the following changes to the pattern after a muslin:

  • shortened the bodice above the bust by 1 cm
  • shortened the shoulder length again by 1 cm
  • moved the shoulder seam 1 cm forward at the armscye
  • removed 1 cm wedge from CB
  • widened the back darts by 1 cm each
  • lengthen the back darts by 1 cm on the upper end

Apparently I do everything in 1’s :).

I think the back could be even more shaped and there is a little bit of dragging at the armscye, but I don’t know what more I could do, I’m not sure what needs changed. It still fits good for a woven dress, but every wrinkle and line is highlighted by the shiny fabric. Look at that zip – urghhh! – I interfaced the fabric there! :(

I’ve planned another dress using this pattern – I’m going to make it out of a colorful viscose I bought recently, omit the zip as I can get into and out of the dress without it, and use the 3/4 sleeve, lightly gathered at the bottom.

And please, if you know Maya, the Finnish architect who lives in SE London, wears mostly a-line dresses with leggings, braids her hair and cycles to work, please let me know, I’d like to see her again! :)


Simplicity 2451 – the almost perfect skirt

I had a plan, you see? I was going create a wardrobe and enter the wardrobe contest on PR. But I have to admit, I knew 9 pieces of clothing in 6 weeks was not going to happen. But I still wanted to think of a mini wardrobe – “an organized closet where one can pull an outfit together at a moment’s notice”.
wardrobe contest
I’ve only done 3 so far and one of them is the skirt I’m talking about today. I wanted a red skirt. A basic red skirt that I could wear with every top in my closet. Red is a neutral in my book.
I recently gave in and bought Simplicity 2451 after being exposed to many beautiful specimens in the last couple of years.
So the plan was to have a red skirt. I didn’t have any red fabric but I had plenty of other colors and a pack of tulip red dye. The color turned out great, but I dyed only half a meter of fabric. Sometimes my brain goes dead. I’d like to blame it on my age but I’m only 30.
Half a meter wasn’t enough to cut all the pieces out and in another strike of genius I decided to use scraps from my skinny barb for the plackets. Now the skirt doesn’t go with anything in my wardrobe.
EXHIBIT A – where’s my waist?
EXHIBIT B – red, navy gingham and dark floral – are you dizzy yet?
EXHIBIT C – This one kind of works, I’m not one to save red and green for the holiday season :). I’ll probably wear it with a black cardigan. The only (small) problem is I didn’t make the top or the black cardigan I’m going to wear it with.
EXHIBIT D – this is probably the best match, but this old shirt is gaping at the bust so I can’t wear it outside my garden.
Try to imagine all of the above with a full red skirt – a totally different story! I’m thinking of dying this one black and make another red one. What would you do? I’m not looking forward to another hour of stirring the fabric in the dye bath. Have you ever used machine dye? Did it ruin your next 3 laundry loads?