The Gingerthread Girl | Dressmaking, Sewing & Crafting Blog
My name is Jen and I am a sewing addict. In May 2014, 10 months after getting married, I was still kind of suffering from post-wedding blues. The creative in me was hungry for a new challenge. I swiftly took myself to a local college and signed up to do an evening course in beginners' dressmaking. Best. Decision. EVER. I now dedicate all of my spare time around a full-time job to dressmaking.
Finally I’ve gotten round to blogging my latest make – and she’s a vision of mustard loveliness!
These are the Tilly and the Buttons Mila dungarees, which had been on my sewing hitlist for quite some time. I even bought this mustard denim (from Guthrie & Ghani) especially for this project – before the pattern had even come out. One keen bean right here! Not only am I a massive Tilly fan, but I also a lover of dungarees – an obsession which started as a kid to be honest. And I’ve never grown out of that particular obsession (or grown up in general really – I refuse to, it’s a trap! Haha!).
The pattern itself was a joy to sew. Tilly’s patterns are consistently reliable and high quality, from the pattern itself to the instructions – and I love that she puts plenty of notches into them too. I think I found one missing from the waistband, but it didn’t matter. It was a pretty straightforward part of the make anyway.
I found myself using this make to really try to up my topstitching game too. I studied my RTW Topshop dungarees to take notes on all the details of topstitching, so I could try to mimic that finish. I have written a whole blog post for Brother Sewing UK (sponsored post), so if you’re interested in seeing what I have to say on this topic then head on over to their blog! Link here – http://brothersewinguk.blogspot.com/2018/06/topstitch-like-pro.html.
The fit of the dungarees is almost perfect for my body shape. I feel like it needs some adjustment around the crotch area to look more professional. So I’m making a challenge for myself to really do my research into fitting trousers. If you have any resources you would recommend for learning about fitting trousers then please let me know – I’m all ears! Otherwise though I really like the fit on the legs – they are the perfect width for me. I like wearing them with the legs just rolled up slightly above the ankles.
Hope you all like my attempt at these dungarees anyway! I couldn’t resist making them in the statement mustard-coloured denim!
Howdy stitchy friends! I’m thrilled to be showing you all my latest make. I have been absolutely gagging to sew up a Kalle Shirt Dress for so long – in fact it is one of my #2018MakeNine, so yay to ticking another make off the list!
So when Spoonflower got in touch to talk about collaborating on this post, I did a little excited dance inside at the thought of being able to design my own fabric. Short of weaving the fabric myself, it feels amazing to be handed the ability to design the raw material!
I recently upgraded to an iPad Pro with Apple Pencil so I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to have a go with designing a pattern myself. I downloaded the Procreate app, and had a blast having a bit of a doodle!
I knew I wanted to recreate my own version of an abstract-type pattern, much like I’ve been falling in love with in the Oliver Bonas shop window. Plus I knew this abstract-style would be relatively easy to recreate, and a good starting point for beginning my journey into fabric design.
Once I had my design finalised, it was easy to upload onto the Spoonflower website. And I loved playing around with the different layout/sizing/tiling tool – it helped to visualise the finished product. I ended up shrinking my design right down after seeing what it would look like. And before embarking on this fabric designing mission, I already decided on making a Closet Case Kalle Shirt Dress. And I wanted something with plenty of drape, to give this dress a soft floatiness. So I opted for the silk faille, which was the perfect choice as it turned out.
I was a little bit worried that my fabric design (which was predominantly dark blue) was printed onto a white fabric, but I don’t think it shows much at all. The only part I think you can really tell is if you can see the inside of the dress on the back panel (as it hangs lower than the front).
The pattern itself wasn’t the easiest I’ve ever sewn. And I used the sewalong on the Closet Case website so much for reference. It really helped with so many aspects of the make – from making a hidden placket, to perfecting a crisp collar point. The photos especially were so handy to refer to – I’m a much more visual person, so progress photos really helped.
Before I started this make, I decided on making the tunic length version, because I was concerned that the dress length option would swamp me, as I’m not particularly tall at 5’4″. Well…. it is a bit on the short side for wearing as a dress! And I certainly wouldn’t wear it without tights or leggings underneath. So note to self – future Kalle dresses should be made at the dress length Jen!!
I had fun making the hidden placket too – I’ve never made one before. I was a bit concerned that the fabric wouldn’t press nicely into the placket folds, but it was fine. I tested on some fabric scraps first, and found that this silk faille pressed really nicely, albeit a little bit slippery to work with.
I think I stuffed up on inserting the sleeve cuffs, as I ended up with too much fabric being sewn into them and then puckered the seam. Fail. Luckily the fabric pattern is super forgiving and hides a few mistakes well!
The silk faille felt quite synthetic to work with, but had a lovely silkiness, which feels lovely on my skin. Really floaty and summery! But the main quality of this fabric that I loved was that it was almost completely opaque, so I didn’t need to think about any lining fabrics etc. It was a bit of a dodgey one to topstitch, and felt like the fabric was kind of laddering a little as I stitched into it. You will see from some of my close up photos anyway.
I loved using a number of different sewing machine feet to help with topstitching this project – including my ditch stitching foot especially! I could set that to run along a seam, with my needle slightly to one side, to get a perfect line of topstitching just a couple of millimetres from a seam.
Overall, I am super happy with this make. I can’t believe that I’m able to wear my own doodles and it look really cool! I am a bit disappointed that I chose on making the tunic length version as it is a bit too short to wear alone as a dress. So I will likely take this up to shirt length and wear it as a boxy shirt with jeans. I will definitely be returning to make more Kalle dresses, for sure!
Pattern: Closet Case Kalle Shirt Dress [tunic length with hidden placket]
A little bit of comfy cosiness in sweatshirt form for you this morning guys! This British winter really has outstayed its welcome (and let’s be fair, it is only really welcome in December, for ult festiveness). So to prevent me freezing my bits off, I am still all about sewing sweatshirts.
This pattern was my very first I Am Patterns make. And I have to say in full caps I AM A FAN! I absolutely love how they really inject statement design features into their patterns. So for this sweatshirt, an I Am Lion, they have taken a basic jumper pattern and given it puff shoulders. I am also 90% of the way through an I Am Zebre (the one with the puff sleeves), which I am really excited to finish.
I used my overlocker for sewing together the whole garment.This was a bit nerve-wracking for the gathering on the shoulders, but it worked really well! And shout out to I Am Patterns for super clear instructions. Everything made total sense throughout.
I used a snuggly warm fleeceback sweatshirting from Guthrie & Ghani. I wish I could explain just how nice this fabric is… but I feel like my words won’t do it justice. It is *so* soft and fleecey on the inside. And it was so much fun hammering in the snap fasteners. I used some Prym ones I bought from John Lewis. They come with an easy fixing tool, which worked brilliantly at holding the snaps in place while I used my mighty strength to hammer them in.
I’m still a bit on the fence as to whether or not this style suits me really. I do, however, feel like a strong powerful woman – this is what puff shoulders can do for you! I think if I make this again, I would take some of the volume (not really sure if this is the right word) out of the shoulder puffiness (definitely sure this isn’t the right word, but you catch my drift!), and possibly bring the shoulder seam in slightly for my narrow shoulders. What do you think anyway, yay or nay?
So until this grim British weather decides to do one, I can be found at my sewing machine making further warm jumpers! Thanks for reading lovelies x
So just desperately trying encourage Spring to come out and say hello, with this little make. So bored and tired of the seemingly never-ending British winter!
And this make was a little bit unusual for me, in that I have been very much ‘off’ floral patterned fabrics for some time. So this feels somewhat out of my comfort zone… but I couldn’t help but fall in love with the fabric when it appeared on the Guthrie & Ghani website. You know, *that* feeling when you emotionally connect with a fabric and would do anything including selling your vital organs just to buy it. Yeah, that feeling.
The fabric was as pretty IRL as it was on the website. It is a crepe with a tiny bit of stretch to it. I was a little thrown off by this to start with… questioning – is it a woven or a knit… what patterns would work for this, given that it has a tiny bit of stretch etc etc. I contacted Guthrie & Ghani to ask, who helpfully replied advising to sew as a woven. I was still a little bit unsure of the perfect pattern, given that it had the bit of stretch to it. I guess my vision when I ordered the fabric was a tea dress, with my new Topshop black biker jacket over the top – probably inspired by some fancy Pinterest photo.
After much umming and erring, I decided on a By Hand London Anna Dress as the pattern this fabric was destined to make. I have made this before (here), and previously cut a straight size 8. Now, since then, a fair about has happened in life – including birthing a child and eating all of the cake. So my body isn’t quite what it used to be! But I decided to cut the same size, after trying my other version on, and it feeling kind of ok. Plus, with my fabric having that little bit of stretch to it, I thought making a size that tiny bit smaller might actually help the fabric work with the pattern.
I did make some quite big alterations to the neckline of the Anna Dress. I know it is supposed to be a wide cut neckline, but I have very narrow shoulders – so neck gape is a problem I’m used to fixing on almost every dress/top that I make. However, this neckline needed quite a lot taking out to make it fit. But so pleased that I did! It fits so nicely now.
BHL are one of my all-time favourite indie pattern designers – and I am so pleased that bought their paper patterns way back when they used to print them. Because they are all of the heart eyes. The Anna is great for beginners too – no sleeves to insert, and the trickiest part is probably inserting the invisible zipper. So it was a fairly quick make – yes to this!
The fabric, however, was a bit of a headache through the making process. Mostly because it didn’t press very easily, but did burn easily (!), and the fabric pattern leaked onto my ironing board. It was definitely a wrestling match at times – and I used a lot of hand basting and pins to help keep this fabric in check. And newsflash – I’m really getting into handstitching. I used to avoid this at all costs. But now I’m a bit excited to do even a bit of hand-basting or blind slipstitching. I’ve discovered the zen in sewing by hand – took me a while.
Anyway, hope you like this dress as much as I do. I want to wear it all the time now! I’ve included a photo with me wearing my biker jacket with the dress, which was my vision before I even started making it.
Hope you are all getting some Easter sewing in guys! And eating all of the chocolate… I know I am!
I don’t know about anyone else, but I am so OVER this Winter. It has dragged on for too long, and out-stayed its welcome… roll on Spring! And with that in mind, I wanted to share with you a bunch of fashion fabrics I’ve been eyeing up which have me dreaming of blue skies and daffodils.
These are all fabrics I am genuinely crushing on hard right now. Hope you like my picks! Fabrics all available at time of publishing this post.
I love the colour of this fabric, and the coloured flecks too. And with it being a fleece-backed sweat shirting, it will still be perfect for a chilly weather. Maybe a Linden sweatshirt or a Freya sweater from Tilly’s new book ‘Stretch’?
I don’t know why, but I’ve been out of love with floral fabrics for quite some time. But this fabric has me with all of the heart eyes with a darker, less girly, floral design. I love the colour palette on this, with the contrasting splashes of yellow to make it pop.
I have to admit, I’ve never actually ordered from The Fabric Store. But I find myself lingering on their website on a daily basis, because their fabric and site are so pretty! And they have such a great reputation and following and I hear so many people gush over their fabrics. This spotty jacquard jumped out at me for making a really statement, structured skirt or dress.
I really need to get to the bricks and mortar Ray Stitch shop in London. I have only ever ordered a tiny bit of jersey and ribbing from them, and the quality is incredible. So this bright yellow just jumped out at me – isn’t it the perfect shade of yellow?! I feel like I’m shouting that in my head, but it really does have me that excited. It gave me images of ‘that’ Tilly and the Buttons Freya ruffle dress. You know what I’m talking about!
I feel like my wardrobe has been all about blues/greys for the whole of Winter, and I’m ready to break free and inject some colour into my life. My husband trying to compliment me as looking ‘a vision in grey’ the other day (i.e. head to toe grey) was the moment of realisation. So what the hell, throw this lawn with all of the colours my way!
Ok, so this fabric would be my splurge purchase. Imagine a midi length skirt in this, with a slightly shorter navy lining. Mmmmmm. Joel & Son Fabrics have so many other broderie Anglaise colours on their website, but I warn you, you *will* want to throw your purse at them to buy it all.
Well, I have been absolutely gagging to show you this dress. It has been a long time coming, for sure! I first dreamt up this dress when I bought the paper pattern at The Great British Sewing Bee Live back in September 2017. As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to attempt a hack to remove the buttoned up front, and add an invisible zipper up the back. The pattern? A Nina Lee Kew Dress – and what a beaut she is!
And it was fate that the Atelier Brunette Stardust double gauze fabrics were released, right at the time I was ready to start this make. I literally raced up to Backstitch to go buy this, and so began my make.
I will be posting a video on my YouTube channel really soon with details of how I hacked this, but it was essentially fairly simple. I just cut the front bodice and front skirt pieces on the fold, so they were each 1 piece. Then for the back bodice and back skirt pieces, I didn’t cut on the fold (as the pattern asks), and I added 1.5cm to the centre backs, to allow seam allowance. It was pretty simple – though I was pretty nervous to try it on in case I had stuffed it up… that would have been a total tragedy with this fabric!
This was my first venture into sewing with double gauze fabric. If you haven’t come across double gauze before, it’s like 2 thin layers of fabric joined together with the tiniest almost-invisible stitches. The fabric is quite a loose weave, which had me a little worried for sewing the bodice and skirt together. I could see the seam line between bodice and skirt sagging out of shape quite quickly. So I decided to interface the entire bodice with a lightweight black interfacing first. So happy that I did! It definitely feels like it will hold the shape and structure that is needed on the bodice.
I had a little bit of a nightmare with hemming. I wanted to shorten the dress, which I wish now that I had done during the fabric cutting. I ended up finishing the hem by a combination of measuring the dress in a flat-lay, and also by eye. It definitely worked out in the end… but I was holding my breath for parts!
I felt as though this dress/fabric combo was deserving of some real attention to detail, so I ended up finishing quite a few parts by hand. Normally I’m one for avoiding any/all hand sewing, but lately I have found it so therapeutic. So I finished the lining along the zipper by hand, as well as the hem.
The pattern itself is amazing. Clear instructions, beautiful packaging (illustrations all by Nina too!), and everything just works. The fit for me was spot on – the only change I made was to shorten the shoulder straps slightly – but that’s an alteration I would normally have to make anyways.
I am chuffed to bits with how this dress has finished up. I feel like a princess wearing it! And will be wearing it to my brother’s wedding in March. I love it that much!