February 3rd, 2017
Last September I bought some gorgeous Japanese double gauze cotton from Merchant and Mills. It was quite expensive and I wasn’t really supposed to be buying fabric for me at that time, but it was just too divine to pass up. I bought 1.5metres, I can’t remember exactly how much it was a metre but it was around £22, so it cost me over £30, I haven’t bought fabric that pricey for a while and remembered why when trying to decide what to use it for. Needless to say it sat in my stash for a good few months. And then Imogen came along and I knew what I must do…
Not too sure how wide the fabric was but it obviously wasn’t as wide as the star fabric I’d previously made Imogen out of and it was really really tight getting the pattern pieces to fit. I had to compromise and use the original shorter sleeve pattern piece otherwise it just wasn’t going to work. As it was I literally had mm to spare between pattern pieces, had to be really economical with my cutting out.
At the moment I tend to make this pattern over 3 days, as I find it quite demanding in places. I usually cut out the fabric and attach the interlining to the relevant pieces, and then if I’ve started early enough in the day I might do the zigzagging of the neck edges and bottom edges of both bodice pieces and sleeves followed by the gather stitches. I will then start again afresh the next day.
There will now follow some pictures that I hope will help with the inserting of the placket.
Make sure your pieces overlap before sewing.
The pictures below are where it gets tricky. And I have to say it was particularly tricky with this fabric as it got pretty thick in places and I really wasn’t sure if I was going to get it through the sewing machine!
I honestly thought at this point that it wasn’t to work and that I’d made a major waste of this beautiful fabric! However it would seem I don’t like to give up too easily, especially when I love the fabric. So I persevered…
Look at that beautiful placket. I am so proud of this bit and I can’t believe it actually worked out!
After the plackets done, you then hem the back and the front pieces.
After that you attach the front and back at the side seams. And then comes the sleeves. This was also a little tricky as the fabric was so thick after turning up the sleeve hem twice that it was quite hard pushing the elastic through and took me way longer than previously. I left it after that and picked it up again the next day. Have to say if I didn’t have housework and washing and cooking to do I’d probably be able to make it in a day.
After making the sleeves comes the attaching of the sleeves. I’m always a little anxious when I put in the sleeves, have had many a sleeve insertion go awry. Happily this went smoothly.
Next up attaching the collar, I quite enjoy this bit as I love the gathering and getting the body to fit the collar. Again though it would prove quite difficult with this fabric due to its thickness. The gather stitches didn’t want to run smoothly through the fabric and I had to pull quite hard. I used lots and lots of pins. And I can’t recommend the entomology pins from Merchant and Mills highly enough. I leave them in the fabric as I sew and sew over them, they are fine enough to get it away with it. Have had the machine needle hit one a few times, usually makes me jump but haven’t had any major problems yet. Obviously I’m not recommending it as such but just saying it works for me.
Below is the outer collar piece
And below here is the inner collar piece being attached to the outer piece.
After both collar pieces have been attached comes the top stitching at the base of the collar. Now I did have trouble with the opening parts of the collar, I simple could not get it through the machine. I even tried hitting them with a hammer to see if that would help. It flattened them out a bit but not enough, so I just had to leave them unstitched at those two points. Doesn’t seem to be a problem though. Phew!
You can just about see in the picture above where I’ve had to leave it unstitched. Oh and the top stitch did go a little wonky in places, but I can live with it.
I really do love the neckline on this top.
It reminds me of this top, which is designer and quite expensive, so I am so happy to be able to make it for myself. And I think it looks just as good if not better if I may say so myself! I like the fact that the Imogen doesn’t have such a low cut neckline.
With the thickness of this fabric its a little more structured than the previous 3, but I like it. I think it worked quite well. Its pretty warm too.
So all in all I am extremely happy that I’ve finally used the fabric and happy that I ended up making the right choice. Although I reckon it would have made an equally lovely Trapeze top.
And I would like to say that when I posted this on Twitter shortly after finishing it, Jules Fallon of “sew me something” said and I quote “ Yes, I thought that when I zoomed in. But it was worth it, this has to be one of my most favourite Imogens of all time!” How flipping happy am I! :0)
November 12th, 2016
Its just been a while since I’ve blogged about it. I was busy making bags for my little Etsy shop
but now I’m back to the clothes.
I’ve tweaked my Merchant and Mills Trapeze pattern once again, to make a mini dress/tunic length. And the first thing I made from this new pattern was a dress for my works Christmas party. I made it from the textured black and white ponte roma that I made a top from from in the summer. I had a hunch it would make a good dress for a party. And I think I was right. Very happy with it indeed.
It was a nice easy make. The fabric is a joy to work with.
Here it is as party dress, I hope I’m not too old at the age of 45 to be wearing a mini dress like this. Don’t worry won’t wear it without tights, that was not a good look!
It also looks good as casual wear, worn with jeans and Uggs or Birkenstocks.
I probably prefer it worn casually but then again I prefer casual wear now a days anyway!
Hope you like it, I do.
August 19th, 2016
I’ve been wanting to make a new bag for a few months now. I had an idea of how big I wanted it to be and how long I wanted the handles. However I was procrastinating over this idea for the longest time because I knew I was going to have to draft the pieces myself and I’ve been spoilt with using patterns now (you might recall if you’ve been reading my blog from the beginning that I used to draft all my makes myself) and even though I was still going to be using a very simple shape I was feeling too lazy to do all the measuring out that I used to do when making a bag. also the bags I used to make all had several layers and this was very time consuming. Plus I hadn’t really come across any fabric that I really wanted to make a bag out of recently. Until the striped denim from Merchant and Mills, that I’d made a top out of. I had a feeling it would work really well as a bag.
I cheated with the cutting out and took a bit of a gamble. I didn’t mark anything out at all. I just used my tape measure to guide me, and cut along it. I also folded the fabric so I’d only have to cut out a piece once. This seriously reduced the time it took. And for the most part the pieces were pretty even, so I was quite happy with that. I didn’t line this bag as the denim is fairly robust and sturdy and I also like how the fabric looks on the reverse.
I used some grosgrain strapping that I’d had in my stash for a while, also bought from Merchant and Mills. I like how the straps contrast nicely with the bag fabric.
I’m very happy with my lovely new bag and I was right, the fabric does work really as a bag.
I think I’ve finally got the dimensions and strap length right for a very useful bag. Its comfortable on the shoulder and holds a lot of stuff.
Here I am wearing it with dress and necklace also made by me. Walked into town on one of the hottest days of the year so far, back in July, and I was very comfortable (within reason ) in dress and carrying bag. Not too heavy, even when full of shopping.
My Niece loved it too, and so I made her one. Hers is a little different and also a bit better made than mine. Although mine is not badly made, but it had been a while since I last made a bag. So making a second so soon after meant it was all fresh in my mind and therefore I feel I did a better job of it. I also managed to get some of the selvedge to show, which I had tried to do with mine but it didn’t work.
Loving that edge seam.
I added my label to hers too. I never think to add a label when its for me.
And here’s a modelling pic of my lovely Niece Zoe with her exclusive bag!
She’s very talented and has her own Etsy shop, Meemalz, where she sells miniature clay animals, and takes custom orders for your very own miniature pet. Follow the link and take a look.
August 5th, 2016
I bought some gorgeous 11oz stripey denim from good old Merchant and Mills and silly me I didn’t realise till I got it home that the stripes ran vertically and not horizontally. I don’t know why I was surprised as its happened several times before. Anyway I was slightly disappointed as for some reason I’m really not keen on vertical stripes, and was wondering if I could get away with using the fabric so the stripes would be horizontal, but decided against it as I felt there would be no give in the fabric where I needed it once it was made up.
Oh and just as an aside I had planned to make something different. I was going to make the Merchant and Mills Union dress, I have the pattern. So as I’m lucky enough to live not far from Rye I am able to visit their lovely shop quite often. I tried on 2 of the Union dress samples in a size 10 and 12, and well lets just say it did me no favours. A bit like the Top 64, which I made and hated. So I’m afraid for now I’m sticking with the Trapeze pattern. I did however get to see a toile of their newest pattern offering and let me tell you its gorgeous! And I didn’t end up wasting an awful lot of time making something that I was never going to wear.
On the way home I became a bit concerned about the weight of the fabric too. I’ve already made the Trapeze up in a denim, firstly an 8oz denim and a 5oz dress weight denim. The 8oz is quite sturdy and results in a fairly structural garment whilst the 5oz is a lovely soft denim which drakes a bit better. So I suddenly had a moment of panic about the 11oz, thinking it was going to be too rigid. I managed to allay my fears until the moment I got it out of the washing machine when it felt like very stiff cardboard! It had somehow felt a lot more pliable and softer in the shop. I was a little unhappy with my decision and wasn’t entirely sure if I was going to make a Trapeze with it. Plus I was stuck with 3 metres of the stuff!
Next day though I decided to plough on. I’d had the fabric cut into a 1 metre and a 2 metre piece to save me from trying to wrestle a 3 metre piece of fabric in my living room. I started with the 1 metre piece and made a Trapeze top. And I have to say that although I wasn’t exactly excited about this project the denim was a joy to work with. It behaved and went where I wanted it to go and did what it was told. The thin stripes were a little bad for the eyes at times though, I have to say.
Now considering I don’t like vertical stripes on clothes and the fabric was a little too thick in my opinion, I ended up quite pleased with it.
This is one of the nicest crispest necklines I have ever produced. And I’ve become rather taken with those stripes, looks a bit like a humbug.
Back of the neck.
And because of the vertical stripes, pattern matching wasn’t much of an issue. Which is always a plus in my eyes.
Look at the side seam.
And the centre back seam looks almost invisible, particularly at he top.
Now for rest of the pics.
It does have quite a structured look about it still, but I like it.
I love that it holds its shape.
Unfortunately I still haven’t mastered putting in smooth sleeves, there are tucks and puckers, Patrick Grant and Esme would be horrified! But I put up with it.
It was a pleasure to wear and I felt really good in it.
I am now a convert to the vertical stripes, but not sure if only like them as they are very thin. And from a distance the fabric almost looks plain grey. And now instead of despairing that I have 3 metres of the stuff, I’m looking forward to making another one for sure but maybe a third too. Not sure yet, might end up making a bag. I think the fabric would work really well and look good as a bag.
May 20th, 2016
I started off with a plan to make another Trapeze top out of this black 5oz dress weight denim from Merchant and mills. Then I thought it might look nice with contrast sleeves. Which means reversing the fabric to show the lovely grey side. So I laid out the fabric and then wondered if I had enough fabric to make a dress with contrast sleeves instead? I didn’t quite have enough, but then I remembered I had some left over from previous makes (I’ve used this fabric quite a lot) and joy of joy I had enough for the sleeves and facing, Yay! I then thought about making it grey with the sleeves in black, so this is what I set out to do.
Once I’d put the dress part together I then thought I’d have a look and see what it might look like with grey sleeves. And I really liked it, i tried it with the black too but in the end decided to go with an all grey dress. And I’m so pleased I did as I think it looks quite smart. The grey side of this fabric is just gorgeous and I think I prefer it to the black. I don’t know if its meant to be reversible but thats the beauty of making your own clothes, you can do whatever you like…
I’m loving the short sleeves.
I think it looks pretty good with my necklace too. I have pretty much worn this necklace non-stop since making it :0)
Not sure if it makes me look pregnant from the side in the pics (I can assure you I’m not), but I don’t think it does in real life.
I will most probably wear it with jeans for the most part as my legs are not my best feature and they are very pale and pasty. I also think that worn with high heels it would look good for a party or wedding, with the right accessories.
I’m extremely happy with this dress and am also quite amazed at my thought process and how I got from making a black top to making a grey dress.
May 6th, 2016
Loving this crepe fabric, drapes so beautifully. Here it is in a simple black Trapeze top.
Bit of a bugger to work with as it frays like buggery.
The neck facing was a bit of a nightmare too actually. It kept wanting to roll back outside which was a pain in the arse. I gave it some thought and decided to top stitch round the neck and see if that helped.
It did help but created its own problem. The fabric sort of gathered towards the left shoulder. Seems to look Ok and people don’t appear to notice unless I point it out (which I do). Definitely looks better worn than it does on Gertie.
And here’s me wearing it for lunch with friends.
February 5th, 2016
What a F*****g nightmare! I do not exaggerate , I really don’t. Making this was, how shall I put it? Traumatic! I am not one to over dramatise but this really was one of the most mind boggling things I’ve ever made.
It all started off innocently enough. All was going to plan. Cut out the fabric, put the front and back together. Constructed the facing, attached it to the neck. Was thinking, I might have this finished today. And then BAM! I hit a major brick wall. The armholes OMG the armholes, more to the point the armholes facing. WTF!
I started off OK, I pulled the facing outside and turned it over so right sides were facing each other. Started to pin in place pulling the inside out as I went, got to about half way up the armhole when it all started getting messy. And it was at this point that I decided that the good people of Merchant & Mills had lost their minds and missed out an entire section of instructions. It didn’t seem to matter what I did I could not get my garment to look like their illustration.
I can tell you now people, the air was pretty blue around me at this point, I was frustrated beyond belief. The Husband hearing my moans of despair came up to see what was wrong and when I explained, he had a look and tired to help. He couldn’t figure it out either. We were both convinced something was missing.
So I had to put it aside for a couple of days and wait till I could get to Rye and go see M&M in person. Which I did on the Monday. They were very helpful and assured me that they hadn’t missed anything out and that it was very common for people to get confused at this point. So that made me feel a bit better. Anyway the lovely lady pinned one half of the armhole for me and I watched intently as she did so. She said it really feels wrong and twisted whilst you’re doing it but it all works out in the end.
I couldn’t do anything till the next day. So finally I sat down to have another go. I stitched the side that was already pinned. And that takes some working out too. How best to place this deformed piece of cloth under the sewing machine? Once I figured out the best way for me to do it I started sewing. And let me tell you it still was not simple. I finished that half (oh and by the way I tacked it before sewing proper, just in case) and took a bash at pinning the other half. Trying to remember how she did it. Mine looked almost like hers. I tacked that side and then turned the facing to the inside. Hmmm, not quite right, nearly but not quite. It gets a bit messy at the shoulder seam. So I unpicked and had another go. Still not right. So I decide to have a go at the other armhole.
I will try and explain how its done.
What you do is, start by puling the bottom of the facing to the outside of the garment and matching the seams so right side is facing right side, and then pin, then keep pulling the facing to the outside keeping the edges together and pin as you go. You do one half at a time. Now as you get to about half way up the arm hole things start to get very messy but persevere, keeping hold of the edge of the armhole facing and the armhole you just keep pinning and the garment gets more and more twisted, as you approach the shoulder seam you almost turn it inside out, but just at the shoulder keep pinning until you meet the seam. Now attempt to stitch, once you’ve done one half you do the next half in the same way. working up from the side seam to the shoulder seam. Apparently once done you turn it back through to the inside and voila a perfect armhole facing. At least thats how it should happen. Good luck!
There will now follow some pictures in the hope that you get the gist of how horrible it is.
You can’t really tell whats going on here, and I can’t really explain it.
The bit sticking up is the shoulder seam.
Thats a bit more shoulder seam. Clear as mud eh?
Once again The shoulder seam beat me. I just couldn’t get it to lay flat, looked horrible. In the end I unpicked about 3inches of the top of the shoulder and top stitched it down, very close to the edge.
I think it works quite well and stopped me from completely giving up. I shan’t wear it when I go shopping in M&M as they might disapprove of my method.
I’ve put the above picture in just to show what a difference a really good press makes to a finished garment. I am truly amazed that the armhole ended up looking so good. And it was all down to the magic of the iron. Above picture is pre-ironing, and below is after ironing.
Looks all lovely and innocent now, but it truly was a monster!
This is the inside of the garment. Look how well I’ve pattern matched it, right where nobody will ever see it…
One of the main reasons I made the sleeveless version was to have something that would go under my scuba cardi/jacket thing. The sleeves are quite snug on it so sleeveless is best for it really. And it does fit under it beautifully.
You can’t see it, but its there. Fitting very comfortably.
Have to say I’m not overly keen on the sleeveless look on me. My arms are not very toned anymore and look a bit stubby I feel, but needs must and I’m going to wear it. It was a challenge I have to say and I nearly gave up. So glad I didn’t. And even though I didn’t end up doing it exactly as I was supposed to, it still works and looks good. I partly blame the fabric, it frayed terribly and was quite difficult to manipulate. So there!
I have to add and this is quite important, might be obvious but I didn’t work it out I was told. Do not attempt to do the armhole facings with the garment on a dressmakers dummy. Can’t be done, end of!
Will I make another, yes, but a dress next time. And I’ll try and find more appropriate fabric.
January 29th, 2016
I bought two metres of scuba fabric a couple of months ago. And when it arrived I was like, WTF am I going to do with this? I really hadn’t got a clue. It appeared to be a lot thicker and more structured than I was hoping for. So it went on my stash pile to be pondered over while I worked on other things. I liked the idea that it wouldn’t fray and so I wouldn’t need to finish the seams, which helps to make any project that bit quicker. So I was a little disappointed after washing it to see that the grey side was starting to fray a bit and coming away from the foamy bit in the middle. I had thought I might have a go at making another Strand coat but after seeing the fraying I really didn’t feel like going through all the effort to finish the seams, so I scrapped that idea.
I eventually settled on making it into a Trapeze top, I thought it would make a fairly good one and might be nice and warm for the winter. So I cut out the fabric.
I didn’t cut out the neck facing in the end as decided it wasn’t needed. I put the back together and then attached the front to the back, tried it on to see how it was looking so far and hated it. The front was sticking out down the middle and looked really weird. There was a possibility that it would lay better once I’d put the sleeves in but I wasn’t overly convinced. So I left it for that day and thought about it a lot. What was I going to do?
I got up next morning, tried it on again thinking maybe I’d been wrong and it didn’t look that bad, but no, I was right it looked horrible. I took it off hung it up and decided I’d put it down to experience and bad judgement and just scrap it.
Then something inside me said if you don’t care about it you might as well experiment with it. I tried it on back to front and it sat a lot better on me like that. Was sticking out at the back now but didn’t look as bad like that. So I decided to attempt to turn it into a jacket/cardi.
I unpicked the centre back seam, stitched the seam allowance down to make the edge look nice. Put the sleeves in, tried it on again, yep think I can get away with it. I turned the neck in on itself to neaten the edges, that worked quite well and then did the same with the hem and the sleeve hems.
And BINGO, there was a jacket/cardi thing!
There will now follow lots of pictures, as I’m really really happy with this.
Hem looks uneven here but its not. Have thought about adding pockets, but for now I’ll leave it alone. Thats another thing I love about making my own stuff, I can evolve it as I see fit, whenever I like.
The back, that was the front.
I stitched the shoulder seams down so they would lay flat. Quite like how it looks.
Not the best pictures, but here’s me wearing it.
Its so comfortable to wear, I love the sponginess of the fabric, makes it feel light but its also warm.
My Husband said it was elegant in its simplicity. And the edge to edge styling of it does give it a somewhat smart and elegant feel. I think it can be smart or casual myself depending on what else I wear it with.
And I’m so glad I didn’t scrap it and just throw away the £36 I spent on the fabric. So all in all feeling a little smug with myself right now.
January 8th, 2016
I’d like to share with you the lovely goodies that I got for Christmas.
First up is this gorgeous M&M mug, which I’ve wanted for so long now. Not that I think I’m an actual Seamstress, but its nice to dream.
As you can see its sitting on top of the M&M Workbook. And as others have said it is a beautiful book full of beautiful clothes. Now whilst I might not be capable of making all of them yet, I definitely have my eye on some of the projects. Watch this space.
A friend bought me some items from there too. I just love the packaging.
I was very surprised to receive the second Great British Sewing Bee book. This is my fave series so far. Some great looking projects inside too. And very excited to have the Clothkits pattern. Can’t wait to give that a go, however I suspect it won’t be as easy as it looks.
Lots of new and exciting things for me to try, I wonder how many I will complete. I must try and do new things this year and not to make too many multiples of one pattern. Yeah right!
November 19th, 2015
Love love love this one. 8oz washed denim from Merchant and Mills.
Not much to say, went together beautifully again, just have trouble getting the sleeves in smoothly but still looks good slightly puffy. hangs and drapes wonderfully in the denim, a little softer than the canvas.
Just adding a mod pic for reference. Cropped head out as had major bed head hair! I usually start sewing before I make myself presentable.