Short sleeve Imogen…

jersey dress.

So I’m thinking about making an Imogen dress for my Nieces wedding in June from some gorgeous Crepe fabric I got for my Birthday from my Husband. I decided I ought to make a trial run, so chose this lovely jersey fabric I had in my stash from last year.

This was a very fine jersey fabric and as such was quite tricky to work with. It kept wanting to slide off the table and I had to use millions ( I do not exaggerate) of pins to get it to stay in place, I thought this would be good practice as the crepe fabric I want to use will be quite tricky too.

It went quite well all in all, except for one side of the collar that doesn’t lie quite flat enough. I can live with it though.

The fabric drapes beautifully. However I wasn’t too sure I liked this pattern as a dress and very nearly turned it into a top this weekend, but I tried it on again with my trusty Birkenstocks and decided it would be perfect for those summer days when its too hot to wear too much! And if I do make a dress for the wedding it will be a tad shorter. I haven’t quite decided yet if I want to make the fabric into a dress or if I want to get a couple of tops out of it instead.


So I thought it would be a good idea to buy some more jersey fabric. I found some on, its a rather lovely jersey viscose, black with little white spots. I thought it might be nice to have a go at making one of my tops in a different type of fabric for a change. Thought it might be nice,  HA!

The making of this top was a bit of a nightmare to say the least. I knew it would be a bit of a challenge but little did I realise just how much of a challenge. After all, I’ve worked with jersey before, back in the day when I was making those rectangle tops. It wasn’t difficult and in fact they were pretty easy to whip up, could make one in about 5 hours or less.

Like this one.

Like this one.

So I set about laying out my pattern pieces. That was when I remembered  the first problem about working with jersey, the fact that when you fold it, the edges don’t usually line up nice and neat. If you try to get them to line up neatly you end up with a twisted fold. Not what you want. Once I finally got it to fold in a satisfactory manner, I set about placing the pattern pieces. As this fabric was 150cm wide I was able to get away with 1m of fabric, but only just.

Had to place the sleeve piece length ways.

Had to place the sleeve piece length ways. You can just about see at the bottom that there’s quite a bit of excess fabric, compared with whats underneath. And its the same at the top. Had to juggle with the layout a bit.

Instead of pinning the pattern to the fabric as I usually do, I weighted them down with tins. I found this to be the best method. Though I had to keep reminding myself to cut the notches, as to forget would have been a pain in the arse.

One of the things I hated about working with this fabric was its slipperiness. It just wanted to slip and slide all over the place, and once I had one of the back pieces attached to the front it made the fabric want to drape over the edge of the table and was pretty difficult to try to keep it on the table and not stretch the piece I was working on out. I hope that makes sense.

I encountered my first major headache with it though when I sewed the second bust dart. It would seem and you can correct me if I’m wrong, that a stretch stitch does a little back stitch as it sews. At least thats how it looks to me. When I did the first dart I did my usual back stitch and it was Ok, but when I sewed the second and attempted to back stitch well it went horribly wrong and my machine tried to chew up the fabric. It must’ve taken me at least twenty minutes to free it from its jaws. And then when I tried to unpick the stitches well nothing it would seem was going to prise those babies apart! In the end I decided I didn’t need to unpick and could just carry on where the stitching left off. This was after a lot of prolonged swearing and I’m ashamed to say having a major hissy fit at the fabric and chucking it on the floor. Yes I behaved like a two year old!

I was not going to let the fabric win though and was determined to make it into something wearable if it killed me. Lets just say though that this was one of the worst sewing experiences I’ve had so far. I hated every minute of working with it. And was pretty sure I was going to hate the finished garment as a result.

Here it is without sleeves but otherwise intact. and not loving it, as is usual at this point.

Here it is without sleeves but otherwise intact. and not loving it, as is usual at this point.

Look at how the armholes appear to be stretching out of all recognition.

Look at how the armholes appear to be stretching out of all recognition. I decided to stay stitch round the armholes and I’m glad i did.



Really not loving how it looks at the moment.

I put off doing the sleeves for a few days as I knew it wasn’t going to be straight forward, but as it happens the sleeves went in relatively painless. They are by no means perfect and had I been using my usual cotton fabric I probably would have unpicked and done it again, but there was no way I was unpicking or even attempting to unpick here. So imperfections be damned!

I also had to do the hem a couple of a times. The first time I used the stretch stitch and it just didn’t look right and was too long.

first hem attempt.

first hem attempt.

And from the side.

And from the side. Sort of looks Ok looking at it now, but I wasn’t happy.

Here it is finished.

Here it is finished.

Doesn’t look too bad here but the neckline looked like it wouldn’t sit right either, but it actually looks Ok on.

Shorter now and I'm happy.

Shorter now and I’m happy.


With the front tucked in, which is how i like to wear it.

With the front tucked in, which is how i like to wear it.


Whilst this wasn’t my favourite sewing experience I am happy to say that I do like the top. Its very comfortable to wear in the jersey. And it doesn’t need ironing after washing either which is a big bonus in my opinion. So, once made up into the finished garment the jersey fabric is a delight, but the actual process is horrible. I must be a glutton for punishment though as I’ve just started another jersey top…



May 2014: The joy of Jersey & evolution of a dress!

OK peeps, settle in, this is gonna be a long one!

I’ve already made quite a few tops like this one



In fact I’ve made four. two in the khaki green, one grey and one navy. I absolutely adore this style of tunic, for many reasons. Its comfortable to wear, and in the jersey fabric it drapes so beautifully and feels really good on. Also with my love of simple sewing (& limited ability), the jersey, coupled with the simple shape actually makes this style look quite stylish.  I don’t have any decent pictures of the other tops so you’ll have to make do with just the one, but basically its quite safe to say the other three look almost identical.

I have a holiday coming up very soon, and need some dresses, just simple loose dresses. Nearly bought a few jerseyish (I’m aware its not a proper word) drop waist dresses from TopShop, but since I’ve started making some of my own clothes, I can’t justify £15 on an inferior quality item, when I have fabric at home that I paid £4 a metre  for. Life would be easier if I could, as I would have bought four of the dresses and had a bank holiday weekend  instead! So I decided I had to make them. And therefore spent the entire bank holiday in my sewing room, and lets not pretend that I didn’t love every minute of it.

Right, first draft of the dress looked like this. Please don’t laugh! I’m well aware it makes me look like an inmate from a lunatic asylum……..


Its really difficult to work out exactly what length I want the dress to be. And when you are trying to do it on yourself you end up pulling poses like this……..



I’ve raised my shoulders in the hope it’ll help me decide. It didn’t really! I suppose it gives me a rough idea.

I then decide to pin the hem at the length I think will be best (actually more luck than judgement).


And BINGO! We have a winner.


I then sew the hem in place, using my trusted twin needle. Which depending on the mood of the sewing machine, can go smoothly, or end up in a twisted mess of threads, unpicking and re-sewing, sometimes several times!


Hem is now sewn in place, you may or may not be able to see that I’ve made it a nice deep hem, about 5cm deep in fact.  I do like a deep hem.  Haven’t ironed it yet either so its not sitting quite right, but I’m pretty happy with it.


There’s something I’ve decided I’m not quite happy with. I love the way the shoulders look when its a tunic, but for some reason as a dress I don’t feel it works. Looks kind of unfinished.  So I have a little play around, and tie some fabric round the shoulders, I like this. Gives it a sort of draping affect at the shoulders. However don’t particularly like the loose bits of fabric hanging down………



(I do apologise about the pale and pasty legs!)

I ponder on the shoulders for a while. Make another dress, in khaki green, while I’m thinking. Go to bed thinking about it, and come up with an idea. Can’t wait to get up next day and try it out. Thought about leaving the green dress like this



But don’t really like things round my waist.

So back to the problem in hand, what to do about the shoulders? So the idea I came up with (& I’m not pretending I’m the first to think of it but )was this



I sewed some fabric around the shoulders. Creates a gathering effect, gives the dress just a little more detail, and i think looks pretty cool. I’m loving it. Plus if I get bored of it I can just unpick the bits of fabric and have the sleeves back.



I think it even looks good on the hanger!



So what do you think?



Gone from, inmate of a lunatic asylum, to a perfectly presentable dress I can wear in Florence!

I’m really really happy with this, I mean really HAPPY! This time last year I hadn’t made my first cushion cover yet. And now my holiday wardrobe will be at least 50% homemade! Slap on the back for me.

May 2014: Short Jersey top.

I’m too excited not to share immediately! This bank holiday weekend I’ve done nothing but SEW! I’ve made 1 top and 3 dresses. First up is the top, as the post bout the dresses will be quite long.

I made this with some lovely jersey fabric I got in Merchant & Mills, I mentioned in an earlier post. I just love jersey, it doesn’t fray, so it means you don’t have to finish the edges, nor do you have to be so meticulous with the seams. Which all goes to mean a faster making process. YAY!

OK you lucky people, I’m putting my face in. Pretty sure the only people reading/looking at  my blog are my friends anyway, and you all know what I look like.


I’m really rather pleased with this top, might have to make another in navy. I am, I’m afraid one of those people who, when finds something I like, I buy it in multiples for fear that it will wear out and I’ll never find it again. So now, I can, and do, make things in multiples, for fear the fabric will become unavailable and I’ll never find it again.

January 2014: Top alteration.

Next up is another challenge from Kristina. I meet up with her to discuss what she wants. Kristina has a top she’d like me to alter, wants it a bit longer to wear on the beach when she’s on holiday. Kristina is very patient and kind and always believes I can do something when I’m convinced I can’t. She produces a pretty white top that is perfect but just too short for what she wanted it for. She also gives me a white T shirt that I can cut up and use as the extra fabric. I tell her might not be able to do it and she says ” darling you can do it, but if its not possible then its not a problem”. So there’s really no pressure other than what I put on myself!

I take the top home and have a look at it, I look at the T shirt and the top and try to work out how on earth I’ll put them together. I must sit there for at least half an hour and then think, “nope can’t be done”. I go down stairs and talk to my Husband about it, he says he has an idea of how it could be done. So we both go upstairs and look at it. He starts telling me what he thinks should be done and I start saying “no it can’t be done, it won’t work”. And bless him, he perseveres, and after establishing that it doesn’t matter if we cut up the t shirt as its an old one, so it won’t hurt to try, I finally give in and listen to what he has to say.

Now for the life of me I can’t fully remember what we did, but it did work. It wasn’t perfect but it was perfect enough for the beach. I felt a real sense of achievement when I finished, and was really quite happy with it. This was also my first time working with jersey fabric, and it won’t be my last!

I added the bottom layer.

I added the bottom layer.

Close up of bottom front.

Close up of bottom front.

Bottom back. Not perfect but it will do for the beach.

Bottom back. Not perfect but it will do for the beach.