A lot about loving a dress comes down whether you like the neckline! And with that in mind I have a couple of ABSOLUTELY FREE pattern hacks here for you to make the most out of your Everyday Chic Dress pattern.
My original design for the Everyday Chic Dress has a split neckline. But you don’t have to put this split in if you don’t want to. You will see that the implementing of this detail comes halfway through the instructions, rather than being in the initial cutting. So, it is quite simple to ignore the parts of step 9 that refer to the split and to leave the dress with a round neck.
The only change you will have to make is to the facing which you can simply cut to a smooth curve to echo the neckline (shown in the diagram here). You then continue to apply your facing as you usually would.
The other major change I have made to this dress is that I have not added any of the smocking. The original dress has smocking under the bust and at the centre back. It pulls the dress in nicely at the empire line point which is great for accentuating shape. However, sometimes you want something a little more loose fitting – especially for hot weather. The smocking is actually the final step on the instructions (and the under bust feature is marked as optional anyway) so, all you have to do to achieve this more relaxed fit is to leave out the final step.
I have tried to show the dress from lots of different angles so that you can see how the omission of the smocking changes the shape and fit.
The fabric I have used for my version here is a really delicious double gauze by Nani Iro. I bought it from the Drapers Daughter, who stocks a lot of other very beautiful up-market fabrics as well as the Nani Iro range.
The second little hack comes courtesy of Catherine Lingard who made this lovely version of the Everyday Chic Dress. The natural drapey quality of this single crepe gives the dress a whole different look to the one above. However, one problem that came with the drapey nature of crepe is that the split wouldn’t stay upright – it just flopped open to create a V-neck. So Catherine’s solution was to use a striking button to keep the neckline round without loosing the feature of the split.
I thought it was about time for a another FREE pattern sewists! And it is Easter, the weather is getting warmer and I am desperate to get into something a bit lighter and prettier. This feminine top is an adaptation of my very popular 2 Hour Top.
The Ruffle Top pattern has raglan sleeves, a demure 1960s-style high neckline and pretty ruffles on the raglan seam. You don’t have to add the ruffles but it gives it a contemporary look which I like. I have also added some darts at the bust for a slightly more fitted shape than the original pattern.
I’ve made my Easter version here in a really beautiful fabric from Fabworks called the Jackson Pollock Crepe de Chine. I couldn’t believe how cheap this fabric was – only £8/m. It looks so much like a Nani Iro or Atelier Brunette design but is about a third of the price of these lovely brands. I did check as I was buying it and there is limited stock, but it is still available online.
The Ruffle Top comes in a UK size 12 and has 1.5cm seam allowance. It takes 1.25m of fabric and works best in a fabric with a good drape to it. I think the ruffles would be a little bit stiff if you used 100% cotton. Something like a viscose or a crepe, or even a lightweight jersey would work well. You can download the pattern and print at home.
I’m afraid it doesn’t come with detailed instructions like our multisize patterns, but here are some basics for you:
• Sew both the darts into the FRONT
• Sew the 2 BACK pieces together leaving an opening at the top where it is marked. Press your seams open. Edge finish and top stitch around the opening.
• Hem the longer edge of each SLEEVE RUFFLE (marked in pink) with a small roll hem. This is quite tricky to do on a curve – you just have to take it slowly. Alternatively you can just edge finish them with an overlocker if you don’t mind this more raw look.
• Tack the raw edge of each of the SLEEVE RUFFLES to each of the front edges of the SLEEVE with the pointed end closest to the neckline, and making sure that this stitching is just inside your 1.5cm seam allowance.
• Sew the front edge of the each SLEEVE to the front edges of the FRONT making sure that your ruffles are lying flat.
• Sew the back edges of the SLEEVE to the BACK.
• Fold the COLLAR in half along its length with right sides together and sew up one end. Turn it the other way out and press. With right sides together and starting at the centre back, pin the COLLAR to the neckline all the way round. Sew up the other end to align exactly with the back opening (you can add in a button loop at this point if you want to) and stitch the collar in place. Trim the seam allowance to allow it to sit properly.
• Hem the bottom and the sleeves with a 1cm double fold
• Add a small popper or button at the back of the collar – and you are finished!
“I listen to you, sewists!”
The Scoop Pinafore pattern is my response to all your requests for a dress that you could wear a top underneath.
When I started out on this challenge, a pinafore dress was a garment I had associated with my kids rather than something I had thought about wearing myself. So, I rose to the challenge and designed a GROWN UP pinafore. And, now I’ve done it, I LOVE it.
The Scoop Pinafore is a casual, over-the-head tunic designed to wear with a top underneath. It’s statement square neckline contrasts with the scooped sides, which house large and comfortable pockets (who doesn’t love a pocket!). The skirt has a slight bubble hem (a bit like my Tulip Dress) and sits just above the knee for a 5ft 8 height. And, as with all my designs – NO ZIP REQUIRED. Hurray!
The Scoop Pinafore works well in most medium to heavy weight fabrics. It looks great in denim, corduroy, velvet, wools, scuba, linen and double knits.
I have to admit I got a bit carried away making up version of this pinafore. There just seemed like so many possibilities…
The cover shot is a classic dark denim with the side panels done in a fabulous silver! The denim is from Fabric Time. They do a great range of denims, plain and patterned, at a reasonable price.
The side panel is a really gorgeous printed silver linen – a furnishing fabric actually called “Metallic Linen”- from Fabrics Galore. (Do you remember it from the silver Tulip Dress? These were the off-cuts put to good use.)
The fabric also comes in a green / gold (a large piece of which is lurking in my stash waiting for a suitable project.)
And now for something really arty…
…black velvet combined with some amazing Indian braided fabrics. This dress took some work but I am really pleased with the results. The bottom section of the tulip shaped skirt is a curved panel so I spent quite a bit of time taking tiny darts into this length of trim to make it into a gentle curve that echoed the pattern. The gold bodice is actually made from a very wide piece of trim with hot pink piping. I just cut it to fit the pattern, and the same goes for the side panels.
All the fabrics for this dress are from Bombay Stores in Bradford. They have the most amazing range of metallic brocades and trims all at amazingly cheap prices. The bottom wide flower trim was only 99p / metre. They do have a website but it is extremely disappointing. If you live close enough then the place is well worth a visit for their VAST range of embroidered and embellished fabrics and braids.
I LOVE velvet and wanted to show how it look all in a single colour – so here it is in a lush bottle green. As you can see it looks as good with a high neck underneath as it does with a scoop neck. (I loved this blouse – it has a bit of a Gucci look I think.)
I have another tweed version in the making so watch this space for more inspiration.
We have news for you, sewists! Sew Different are thrilled to be the exclusive supplier of this brand new pattern for the Sculptural Bucket Coat.I have been working with the fabulous sewing Youtube channel,Stitchless TV over the last few months, to bring you the pattern for this gorgeous statement coat. It is the very first of a series of “patterns with a difference” that we will be launching together.
If you don’t already know her, let me introduce you to the designer, Tree. Her Youtube channel, Stitchless TV, is packed full of tutorials for people that want to make clothes but don’t have the time or the skills to do complicated dressmaking.
She creates ‘one-off’ pieces using some amazingly simple tricks picked up in her 30 years’ of experience in the sewing industry. Her quirky style is reflected in every piece and is a great source of inspiration for anyone who wants to create something a little out of the ordinary.
The pattern for the Sculptural Bucket Coat comes in Small, Medium, Large and Xtra Large. It is available on paper or to download from the Sew Different website shop. Unlike traditional patterns, rather than coming with written instructions, there is a detailed video tutorial to accompany it. You can see the FREE tutorial HERE and you will also find a lot of instructions on the pattern itself.
This stylish coat can be made in so many different fabrics. Shown here on the left, is made in a beautiful oversize tartan mohair with its bias binding trims in metallic gold. The fabric is a Delpozo end of line from Classic Textiles in Goldhawk Road, London.
This cool camouflage version is a perforated outdoor fabric with sublimation camo print. It comes with a colour-pop on the contrasting trims and with pink suede elbow patches with lace trim.
This denim coat puts the selvedge of the fabric to good use and you can find out how to make these striking inserts on the Stitchless TV chanel. The fabric itself is a designer waterproof bonded cotton.
What I love about this design is the difference your choice of fabric can make to the finished shape. If you use a softer fabric you will get a scooping drape at the sides, whereas with a stiffer or heavier fabric you will get a more sculptural look and the sides will stick out more. The choice is yours!
My version here is made from a decadent red mohair from Fabworks. There is a lot of binding to be done on this coat so if you have a bias binding foot on your machine it will certainly be put to good use. I bought mine online and I have to admit it was a cheap Chinese copy rather than a branded foot. But it works a treat and is a big time saver on this coat.
However, you don’t have to use a bias binding foot. The Hong Kong seams can either be done manually or, alternatively, you can overlock or just zigzag the edges instead.
Hurray! Sew Different is proud to have been voted one of the Top 25 Sewing Bloggers of 2017, as awarded by AllFreeSewing.com. The Sew Different website started out life as a blog with a range of completely FREE simple patterns to download at home and over the last couple of years we have grown from there. These free patterns are still available, along with our newer multisize range which you can also purchase on paper.
Last year we were very pleased to be in the Top 100 bloggers with the 2 Hour Top, which is probably my most downloaded free pattern. However, the pattern that won the most votes this year was the Curvy Drape Dress. It is available in a single size – a UK size 12 – and it comes as a download with some basic instructions. Here is the link to the original blog post where you will find the instructions and a link to the pattern.
I’ve seen quite a few made up versions of the Curvy Drape Dress from sewists over the last year or so, but my favourite one is by Instagramer, Deeqta, who has made this fabulous green floral. She accompanied her picture with a conversation with her fabric which I just love. She says,
“So Dear #greenfabric , I think you did good. You became a ‘good dress’. You could have been a ‘great dress’ if I had enough time to bring my A-game to this party.
No, scratch that: I must confess, I was too busy to work you out… No, scratch that too! The real truth is that perhaps I didn’t believe so much in your beauty, and so I just made you into something basic… but you won though! So classic, so easy to wear… I’m going to wear you a lot!”
And another of my favourites was part of Instagram’ s Me Made May and is by the very prolific Beckiegirl. Over half the garments in her wardrobe are handmade or refashioned. I love the gorgeous fabric she has used for this one.
So, have a browse for inspiration on All Free Sewing.com. It’s is a great site packed full of completely free patterns and sewing projects. So perfect for using up your scraps or making a matching accessory for your outfit. One of my favourites is this Easy Colour Block clutch by Alidamakes.com How good would that look with my Colour Block Dress?!!
NOTE: To find the full range of Sew Different free patterns have a look under Resources on the main menu bar. (They used to be in the website shop but I’ve moved them.)
Announcing our newest pattern release – the Tulip Dress! As with all Sew Different patterns, it is easy to wear AND easy to make. It is gently shaped through the bodice and comes out into a pretty bubble hem giving it the tulip shape it is named for. This bubble shape is surprisingly flattering – I think its the hourglass effect it gives!
The Tulip Dress has a shallow V-neck and a front pleat giving it extra room around the waist and allowing it to be pulled on over your head. No zip required.
There are little swing sleeves coming midway down your upper arm and big pockets in the side seams. The bottom hem sits above the knee (for a 5ft 8 height.)
NEW & IMPROVED
The original free version of this dress looked like this red check version – see right. But I have made several improvements to the design since that first came out several years ago. I’m afraid that the free version is no longer available. Sorry for any disappointment – it was available for 3 years before I took it down. There are other free patterns to be be found if you scroll down the website shop.
As well as now producing it as a multisize pattern, you will find that the Tulip Dress now has several other improvements. There is more space in the arms, a change of neckline, a more flattering fit around the bodice and a proper bubble created with a curved hem that didn’t exist before.
Melissa’s version on the pattern cover is made from a quilting cotton. It is a fabulous ombré denim look with little gold printed squares. I’ve never seen anything like it before and just love it. This pattern works well in most mid-weight fabrics – denim, cottons, corduroy, linen, light wool, scuba, ponte, double knit. You can also make in something really light and silky but it doesn’t hold it’s tulip shape quite as well.
My own Tulip Dress is made from a lovely quality Ponte I bought from Rosenberg & Sons at the GBSB Live last September. (They do all the main shows and sell online as stitchfabrics.co.uk). I love it – it was £12 / metre and they do it in a couple of different colour ways. It is quite thick and substantial with a bit of stretch, which only adds to the comfort factor.
The Tulip Dress works really well as an everyday dress but I am also in the process of making it up in an amazing silver fabric. Roll on the Christmas party season, and watch this space for a new look!
I’ve always thought there was a lot of mileage in just chopping a dress up the front to wear it as a jacket – what could be simpler? Well, actually it wasn’t quite that simple, but I have ironed out all the problems along the way and am bringing you a brand new pattern hack – the Everyday Chic Jacket. It is essentially the Everyday Chic Dress slashed up the front with some extra pieces to use as facing and an added collar.
Initially, I cheerfully set about making this jacket straight into the best fabric because it is a tried and tested pattern, (so I thought,) so no need for a toile. How wrong I was, because although the shape works fine as a dress, without the front to hold it together, the raglan sleeves just slip off the shoulders. I first tried a little stand up collar to pull it in a bit, which worked OK but was just way too wide to feel right.
Having meticulously unpicked it, I set about drafting an inset collar/neckline to pull it higher up over the shoulders. It worked a treat and here is the finished result. I am so pleased with it and it works really in this lovely 11oz indigo denim (this is actually the reverse side of the fabric). And there, at the pocket, is just a little flash of pzazz – my favourite silk / wool polka dot furnishing fabric that I have used in so many other garments. The coat would work really well in any heavy fabric and I can imagine it looking great in corduroy or velvet.
It is worth noting that, as it is shown here, there are no fastening on the coat and it sits open, which is how I like to wear it. It will pull closed and could work well with a large hook and eye at the bust seam to pull it together if you wanted to do that. However, if you wanted to put buttons on it you would need to add width to the front to accommodate them.
How to do it:
I’m assuming you’ve already used your pattern to make the dress so are familiar with the usual instructions, so I will focus on the differences here.
First cut the SKIRT FRONT & BACK, POCKET FRONT & BACK, BODICE FRONT & BACK as you normally would. No need to cut the FRONT or BACK FACING. We will need to add some length onto the sleeves which I will talk you through in a minute. You are also going to create 2 extra pattern pieces – a new facing for the front and the inset collar.
You can download the collar from here and print it at home. Just click and print onto A4 paper. Cut 2 of the inset collar.
To create the facing, fold your SKIRT FRONT pattern piece 12cm in from the centre line so it looks like this picture on the left. Use this as the pattern to cut 2 pieces which will be the FRONT FACINGS. Cut 2 mirror images of the facing as shown.
To extend the sleeves, add extra length of 30cm. You will need the width at the cuff to be 18cm for a size 12, 19.5cm for a 16, 22cm for a 20 and 24cm for a size 24. (You can estimate the amounts in between.) This includes the 1.5cm seam allowance. Here is a diagram of the original sleeve with the extra extension.
Make your dress up as you would normally, without any hemming or the facings. You will need to cut your FRONT in half up the fold so that the coat opens. (If you put it on now you will see how the neck pull open and sits too wide on the shoulders.)
With right sides together sew the facings to the front opening. Cut your facings an inch shorter than the length of the coat so that you can hem it with out the facing getting in the way. Fold the facing inside and press in place.
With right sides together tack one of the inset collars into the neckline. Then, with right sides together, pin the other collar onto it and stitch together along the inside curve and the short ends. I prefer to do it when its already in place like this so you an exactly align the edge of the collar with the edge of the coat front. It needs to line up properly to look good. After tacking you can stitch properly in place. Clip the seam allowance around the the inside curve to allow it to lay flat.
Turn the collar the right way out and press. Tuck the loose tops of the front facing in between the 2 layers of collar. You can then“stitch in the ditch” on the top of the collar to hold the collar inner in place.
You can hold the middle of the facing in place with a few hand stitches at the waist line. The bottom of the facing can be held in place as you turn up the bottom hem.
These little short pyjamas are perfect as a first project if you are new to sewing. I drafted a pattern on the day before we left for holiday when I realised that we were heading for 35 degrees and all we had were thick fleecy English-style PJs. You can find a pattern here for an approximate age 9, an age 12 (adult SMALL) and an adult MEDIUM. Anything in between can be easily guessed at.
All you need is around a metre of fabric. Mine were both made from the remnant box, along with some ribbon for the straps. And of course you will need enough elastic to go comfortably round the waist. You can download the pattern HERE.
You cut 2 of each pattern piece and, marked on the pattern, is the fold at the top to insert the elastic.
The PJs for my younger daughter are made from a lovely Liberty cotton / viscose and are really soft. I was scraping the fabric barrel a bit more for my other daughter. I love this Day of the Dead pattern cotton but there was not quite enough, hence the co-ordinating strip down the side to
add a bit of width. The cotton is
great for hot weather as it is breathable and washes
beautifully, but it isn’t quite as soft to wear as the viscose.
I didn’t have a chance to buy any supplies for making these PJs, hence the green crushed velvet ribbon on the Liberty fabric might not quite be weather-appropriate. The magenta embroidered braid adds a funky touch to the skulls.
The matching tops are easy enough to make as well. I haven’t included a pattern for these as they are such a straightforward shape. You need to cut a rectangle of fabric – WIDTH – Just take a chest measurement ( add about 5cm extra for comfort.) LENGTH from the approximate neckline down to the hip. Don’t forget to add a little extra for seam allowance. Cut a slight scoop under the arm as shown here in the diagram.
To make the shorts:
• Sew the 2 fronts together along the curved edge
• Sew the 2 back together along the curved edge.
• Sew the front to the backs along the straight edge.
• Hem the bottoms.
• Fold over the top on the marked fold line to make a waistband and sew it in place leaving a 1 inch open gap.
• Thread your elastic through the open gap in the waistband and knot the elastic to fit.
To make the top:
• Cut a front and back as shown – they are both the same shape for this loose fitting cami top
• Sew up the sides of the top.
• Then hem them all the way around the top with a little roll hem.
• Then stitch on the ribbon or braid across the top front, leaving enough excess to go over the shoulders to form straps.
Phew, I am exhausted and thrilled by the success of out first ever Sew Different sewing retreat. Set in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside in the sunny Loftspace Studio, some amazing garments were created over the course of three days. Of our group, a couple were beginners and another couple hadn’t sewn for MANY years but were hoping to get back into it. The rest were a little more experienced and looking to improve their skills.
We set off first thing on Friday morning for Fabworks Mill Shop. Dawn gave us the guided tour of the shop and was full of help and advice about which fabric to choose for which pattern. (She gets quite excited as you can see).
Mother and daughter, Tina and Suzanne, browsed the ribbons, trims and remnants. Nicki had her eye on something a bit special in the furnishing fabrics department.
Suzanne opted for a casual look that suits her style. There’s a great choice of denims and chambrays, but so much choice makes it hard to decide.
Jacqui selected a gorgeous Channel-style silk blend and a coral cotton as an accent on the pockets of her Everyday Chic Dress. She also fell in love with the chiffon rose fabric…..choices, choices! Jacqui ended up buying a LOT of fabric for future projects!
Adele browsing the Liberty fabrics, but she obviously missed something because, as we are all heading back to the minibus she rushed back for a last minute purchase! Needless to say the bus weighed considerably more on the way back as we stuffed bags of fabrics in from every angle. Once back at the studio we met Donna is the teacher for the week. We then tucked into a lovely lunch (including delicious homemade scones with jam and cream – thankyou Watersedge Cafe). Measuring up and paper pattern cutting filled the afternoon. Plenty of guidance is needed as we soon realise that a lot of people don’t know where their waist is!!
We were in bright and early the next morning, keen to start, and we embarked on a full day of sewing. Donna gave a quick demo on how to use the machines (although a couple of people brought their own). Everyone commented on how great it was to be able to sew uniterrupted. Later on Laura gave a demo of the bias binding maker that came in their goody bag. We talked about bias binding, and how (and why) to make you own. Donna gave a great demo on applying it so please admire those immaculately finished necklines! A quiet descends on the studio as everyone concentrates.
Time for a break! At 3pm we served afternoon tea (on a vintage china tea set of course) with a few glasses of fizz. Didn’t you know that a glass of Prosecco helps the concentration?
We all arrived back in on Sunday morning to finish the various dresses and jackets. Laura demonstrated how to put a dart into an existing pattern and talked about some of the reasons you might want to do that.
Nicki’s dress is starting to come together. Donna helps her with the hem length.
Jacqui tweaking the fit of her dress and considering a new modelling career.
Jacqui chose a truly delicious coarse weave silk blend for her version of the Everyday Chic Dress. She wanted to make feature of the pockets with a fabulous coral insert. We helped her to adapt her pattern as she prefers a more fitted look and she made her own adaptation of the neckline to echo this feature. A job well done – Jacqui is thrilled with her Chanel-style dress!
Mother and daughter – Suzanne and Tina – compare their makes. Tina chose the Tie Belt dress and used a very upmarket combination of a a navy slub linen combined with a camel raw silk for the belt and to trim the neckline. Donna showed her how to uses the bias finish as a decorative trim as well and the finishing for the neckline.
Adele decided to do some hand-finishing on her version of the Everyday Chic Dress. We showed her how to add extra length to her pattern. She has brought her own Singer with her and was thrilled to see the beautiful resident vintage Singer that you can see in the back ground.
One pattern but 2 dresses so different in style! Nicki and Suzanne chose the same pattern for the Essential Denim Dress, but can you believe how differently they turned out? Nicky went for an evening look using a combination of glitter denim and a cashmere blend curtain fabric (sounds unlikely but looked great). I showed Suzanne a simple pattern hack for the Essential Denim Dress (you can find this look on the Asymmetric A-line Dress here). Her gorgeous combination of navy linen and sweet turquoise floral made a great summer dress.
Kathryn decides to have a go on a Bernina machine as she is considers buying one herself. She ends up sewing right up until the very last minute to finish her beautiful cashmere version of the Cocoon Jacket. She had chosen some extra labour intensive details, including velvet piping, suedette cuffs and a silk lining for her jacket.
Kathryn’s finished Cocoon Jacket. Look at the pattern matching on the inside of the pockets!
The finished products! We’ve had a lot of fun over these three day and some said they didn’t want to go home. I look forward to seeing you in 2018 ladies!
There are places available for the September 17 retreat. For the full itinerary and information please see the sewing retreat page. Scroll to the bottom to pay a deposit and secure your place.