A Selection of 5 Fabrics to Use in 2018

Wow, it’s been a long time since I posted here, so sorry for that if you’ve been wanting a catch-up! Sewing has been happening, but I think it’s fair to say that it hasn’t been my top priority. I have been somewhat hampered by a bad back, but we’ve also just had a lot going on as a family that has significantly hindered my sewing progress. I’ve just not found myself able to settle to anything, and sewing has felt like too frivolous a pastime to really deserve my limited free time. I do know though that I need to be doing something creative to retain my sense of self and balance.

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About 15 years ago I owned a gorgeous RTW jacket. It was Faux suede on the outside, and a beautiful soft and warm faux fur on the inside. After much wear that jacket had to be disposed of, but ever since that day I’ve been trying to find a suitable replacement. When I was lucky enough to win a copy of Wendy Wards Beginners Guide to Dressmaking book, I decided that instead of looking for the jacket, I should look for similar material instead. Fast forward a while and I popped into Fabricland in Bristol just for a look around; in there I found this beautifully soft and cosy faux shearling. This material then sat in my stash (taking up a lot of space!) for about a year until I decided that I needed to get over my fear of it and get it sewn up.

Black and White Faux Shearling with Asymmetric Zipped Jacket Pattern

Black and White Faux Shearling with Asymmetric Zipped Jacket Pattern

I knew that before I went near the fabric I would need to adjust the fit of the pattern, just from looking at the final garment measurements I could see that I needed an FBA, and a simple measurement showed that I needed to lower the bust dart somewhat! Research showed that I should undertake the FBA first, as this process would naturally lower the bust point slightly, and then lower the bust dart by the required amount to ensure the extra space was where the girls actually require it. This worked out surprisingly well and the tissue-fit made me very happy. (NB – in all the finished photos you can see that the jacket doesn’t appear to fit so well as I had hoped – it actually fits much better than it appears, and it’s just how I’d put it on that day – I’m not going to take more photos to prove it though 🙂 )As such, I cut out the fabric using my altered front pattern piece and started work on the construction. The very first step is to apply interfacing, this is understandable, but in all honesty I took some convincing that thin strips of interfacing would adhere to the fleecy side of the fabric. I spent hours deliberating different ways around this, before my husband asked if I had actually tried to attach interfacing in the normal manner; cue much huffing and puffing from me about how it obviously wouldn’t work…then I tried it, and it did work. I’m still not sure whether I was more happy that it had worked, or more unhappy that I was wrong 🙂
Following that I clipped the fabric pieces together for a quick fitting – I needed to take a smaller seam allowance at the top of the centre back seam, and a larger seam allowance down the arms to the cuffs (I like my cuffs to be relatively tight to prevent draughts!) other than that though we were good to go.

All cut out and clipped for size

Trial fit of the clipped together pattern pieces

Construction of the pieces was rather more straightforward than I had anticipated – I used my walking foot to help feed the bulky material through my machine and other than the sheer bulk of the fabric at some points, I had no problems actually sewing the material although identifying where the edge of the fabric was, could be tricky!

It really is like trying to wrestle half a sheep under the presser-foot at times

Once the pattern pieces were all together I decided that I actually wanted the jacket to be a bit longer than it was. I debated what to do about this, but ended up adding a contrast band to the base of the jacket. This is literally a 10cm wide piece of fabric, not cut on the bias, which goes around the whole base of the jacket. This is then folded up on itself to give a 4.5cm contrast band at the hem of the jacket. It’s worth noting that with this additional length and the FBA I needed a longer zip than the pattern called for. It’s also worth noting that when the black of the zip was against the suede side of the fabric it looked ok, but with the contrast band, the bottom 4cm of the zip stuck out like a sore thumb against the off-white of the fleecy side. I had intended to bind this visible part of the zip with black bias binding to improve the look, and so I ended up encasing the lower portion of the zip in cream bias binding. Getting the black binding to overlay the cream at exactly the right point turned out to be far more fiddly than it had any right to be, but I am happy with the end result.

Bias-bound zip with cream and black binding.

Bias binding the seams took a considerable amount of time. To be honest, I think that it would have been easier if I’d done it before I added the contrast band at the bottom, but for a lot of the seams I’d probably bind the edges before constructing the jacket next time, especially with such a bulky fabric. I’m pleased with the result though. I’d originally wanted to use a contrast colour for the binding, to give the inside a bit of colour, but the colours didn’t seem to work against the off-white of the fleecy side, so I went with black in the end. I’m glad I did, because I’d not really thought about how it would look around the collar!
The next step was the collar; I found this much trickier than I’d anticipated. I’m not sure why, but the pattern piece didn’t seem to fit for me. This is probably because of the FBA and also the narrower seam allowance at the top centre back. I also made this more complicated for myself, because I am much more likely to wear this with more of a V-neck, than completely zipped up. As such, I wanted the collar piece to not meet at the centre of the neck. These issues resulted in me having to basically re-draft the pattern piece, which, to cut a long story short, assisted in the nearly-completed jacket standing on my dress-form for approximately 6 months.

Altering the collar – modified on the right, original on the left

Eventually I built up the confidence to carry out the redrafting, and it was a lot easier than I anticipated. I am happy with the final result. I used some black suedette that was left over from the two GBSB skirts as the under-collar, purely because I thought the thickness of the faux-shearling wouldn’t work well in a double layer!

The modified collar piece – paper is modified, fabric (below) is original piece.

I have now been wearing this jacket for a few weeks – it is so comfortable and soft, and super-warm.

Side view with zip done up

side view with V-neckline

There have been a couple of days where I’ve closed the zip fully, but on most days I’ve been right to make it more of a v-neck. I am so pleased I’ve made this, and so proud to wear it.

Faux shearling jacket back view

A Selection of 5 Fabrics to Use in 2018

Last year I set myself a challenge to use 5 fabrics from my stash that I was nervous about using for one reason or another. The intention was that any of those fabrics that I didn’t use would end up on the log burner at the end of the year if they weren’t touched. Well, to summarise, last year I only cut in to four out of the five fabrics. I have however, not thrown the last fabric on to the fire, because I have good reason for not cutting in to it. Over the past six months I have lost quite a lot of weight, and after losing that weight my shape has still to stabilise. I have decided on the pattern for this piece of fabric, but I don’t want to make a dress that is unlikely to fit me a month after I have made it, just so that I can complete the challenge. As such, this one piece of fabric has been added to my Use 5 list for 2018.Continue reading

My first ever knitted hat

I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m not an expert at knitting, but I do find it relaxing to do on a train on the way home from a long day at work. I bought a load of wool about a year ago and made scarves with the Sirdar Sylvan, finishing up the third scarf from this wool in August this year. Since August though, I’ve been wondering what to do with the remainder of the wool (two balls of each colour – I overbought because I didn’t really have a clue how much I would need). I started looking for a hat pattern, but couldn’t find any that had the same stitch, or used similar wool to this, so I ended up making it up as I went along.Continue reading

Finished Handmade Fabric Advent Calendar

10 years ago I made my husband and I a fabric advent calendar. The numbers were made out of an old green t-shirt, and the pockets were red I think, all on a white ticking backing. We used it for two years and despite its flaws, we loved it. When I say flaws, let’s just say that the numbers were all slightly different sizes and fonts, and the pockets were too small. I wanted to put in a wrapped chocolate for both of us into every pocket – but I had to choose the chocolates carefully to ensure they were small enough to go into the pockets! 2 years after making that advent calendar, we moved house, and despite unpacking every box, and looking everywhere, it’s not been seen since. Continue reading

Girls Purple Jersey Nightdress Front View

Well, it has been a while since I’ve written anything here, but please don’t worry; work has been busy, and additionally my youngest started school, so fitting in lots of drop-off’s and collections as well as working full time has been somewhat time-consuming to say the least! I have been sewing though, but only in very short bursts, hence the lack of finished items and therefore posts!

Given that I’m changing both weight and size, I have recently felt the need to start sewing less selfishly. The trouble is actually working out what I can or should sew. A while back it dawned on me that all my daughters pyjamas were too small. I then realised I had some perfect lightweight jersey that I could make into pyjamas. Then I realised that she actually prefers nightdresses to pyjamas, and that’s even easier 🙂

I looked through my pattern stash for a nightdress pattern, and realised that I could use the Petitboo Jasmine T-shirt (a free pattern) that I had downloaded about a year ago with the intention of making a t-shirt for her, until I realised that she had no need, nor desire for a t-shirt! The Jasmine Tee is a simple round-necked tee with grown on sleeves and a curved hem. The sleeves actually have a folded cuff, and I started off intending to use this, but then my daughter tried it on as is, and declared that she wanted the sleeves to stay the same length. I also thought that folding the cuffs would add bulk on something that needs to be super-comfy.Continue reading

Front View of the Walkaway Dress

It seems ages ago now, but when I first saw the walkaway dress on the Great British Sewing Bee, I knew I wanted to try and make it. The construction alone seemed so different from any of the dresses I have made (admittedly not that many!) that I wanted to make it to just see how it was made. A year later, and I was given the book to accompany the series (Fashion with Fabric) and in that book was the pattern for the Walkaway Dress. I still wanted to make it, but I knew that I wouldn’t ever want to actually wear it! As that realisation dawned, I set aside the idea of making it, as really, who wants to spend precious sewing time on something that is never going to be worn – add to that the use of precious fabric, and that was it – the dream died.

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Portfolio Dress (Simplicity 2245) Front View

Recently I decided to see what Instagram is all about, and signed up (if you want, you can follow me @sewsmartuk). I stumbled across another sewists post regarding a pattern relay for Simplicity 2245.

Simplicity 2245, Lisette Portfolio Dress Pattern

Simplicity 2245, Lisette Portfolio Dress Pattern

Essentially the idea is that if you win, you trace the pattern (no cutting allowed so that it can be passed on to others) and then make up one of the views in a month. You then post your finished garment, and do a giveaway for the next person to make it up in a month. Well, as I think you may be aware, I’m not the fastest sewist in the world, and when I found out I had won, I was rather nervous about making up a garment within a month – especially over the school holidays, with work, children at home, and all of the other calls on time.
I decided that although it’s not my usual style, I just had to make the dress, so once the pattern pieces were traced, I started cutting the fabric that I had bought especially for this pattern (typically, I didn’t have anything suitable in my stash) which meant I just had to buy some of this gorgeous Liberty Tana Lawn, from Abakhan.Continue reading

Girls polkadot dress front view

A couple of years ago my mother-in-law gifted me some beautiful cotton polkadot jersey to make a dress for my daughter. This fabric is so beautiful that I was scared to cut into it, hence it became one of my Use 5 2017 fabrics. I’ve got a couple of knit dress patterns in my stash, but both looked to be more wintery dresses, with long sleeves etc. I could have taken the sleeves off and adjusted the armscye, but I decided that probably the easier route was to copy a much worn RTW dress. I also thought the multi-coloured polkadots on white was rather summery and so a summer dress would be much more appropriate.Continue reading

A beautiful summer sky

So another three months have gone past, and it doesn’t feel like I’ve had all that much time to spend at my sewing table. I have been busy recently doing other things; work has been busy, I’m trying to do more work on our house, spend more time with the kids and get more exercise. I’ve never been all that keen on exercise, but I’ve always liked to do a bit, but I’m getting more focused – I am really enjoying challenging myself to run that bit further or faster. As a consequence, I am losing weight, which is also having an impact on my sewing; after all, I don’t want to sew something for me if it’s not going to fit me at the end of the process, and I think we are all aware by now that I’m not one of those sewers who can rattle something off in an afternoon.
So, now the excuses are out of the way, let’s just have a quick update on progress on my Use 5 2017 challenge:Continue reading