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I decided to sew this tropical maxi dress after a battle with my last make that resulted in an unfinished project. I will go back to it when I can face it again, but in the meantime I needed a palette cleanser! This was just the ticket and perfect for the gorgeous weather we are experiencing in the UK right now.

The Pattern and Fabric

This Butterick pattern looked perfect: quick, simple, easy to sew. As luck would have it we recently managed to source more of our tropical jersey fabric and I knew it was the perfect match. Both the pattern and the fabric had been on my hit list since last year so it was a great opportunity to tick number five off my make nine list too.

I chose view C - a V neck sleeveless version of the dress. I thought our black cadiz cotton jersey fabric would be perfect for the bodice paired with the tropical jersey for the skirt. Unfortunately the cadiz is a slightly different shade to the tropical black background colour so Angela suggested making a band or a tie in one of the contrasting to tie it all together. I wasn't sure at first, but once we laid some red cadiz between the black and the tropical fabrics I could see it would work well. A pair of red tassle earrings would complete the outfit nicely!

The tropical jersey is super soft and has great drape for the flared skirt. Both fabrics were excellent to work with, enough stability to sew up very easily. I used my overlocker, but they would sew well on a sewing machine with a walking foot too.

Adjustments

I cut a size 14 based on my full bust measurement. I made my usual high round back adjustment to the back pattern piece. Even though it was a super easy sew I was still scarred from my unfinished project and decided to make a very quick toile of the bodice. It was literally two pieces of jersey sewn together at the side seams and shoulders so only took a matter of minutes.

I had to take a good 1 and a half inches off the side seams at the top tapering to about an inch off at the waist. I then had to make the corresponding adjustment to the skirt pieces, which I didn't bother to toile because I knew fitting the skirt would be easy.

I also had to shorten the bodice by an inch to allow for the additional waistband.

However, I still cannot crack my armhole, shoulder, back region problems! I thought a high round back and forward shoulder adjustment was the solution to my fitting woes, but my previous project proved otherwise. In certain styles I am still getting drag lines from my armpits towards my neck.

I have been pondering this at length and wonder if it is because I have moved the shoulder seams forward all the way along the shoulder seam in my last couple of makes rather than just at the shoulder end tapering back towards the original seamline at the neck (called a sloping shoulder adjustment). It's funny how you can gradually slip away from something that was working so well previously without even realising it!

I plan to make a muslin in one of the styles I had trouble with and try this technique again to see if this is the issue. Unfortunately this epiphany only happened after I had moved the whole shoulder seam forward on this make so the drag lines are still there, although less exaggerated and less obvious in this jersey fabric.

I had to trim about 1/8" off the armholes because they were too wide, but I think this may be due to cutting a size too big (see below).

Sizing

I've also been revisiting the wonderful Palmer Pletsch fitting book. They have a fantastic new and updated version of the book out, which you can find here and am wondering if I am cutting a size too big, which is causing further problems in the armhole area.

I have been cutting a size 14 based on my full bust measurement with the logic I can sew it smaller if I need to. However, Palmer and Pletsch suggest using your high bust measurement to choose your size. This brings me out between a 10 and a 12 and means the armholes are smaller and bust darts are better positioned for my frame. When cutting a 14 I also always have to take the side seams in extensively because the bodice is always too big and this then affects the armholes. How have I never thought about this before?!

I've already started work on my next project and made a size 10 toile for the bodice grading to between a 12 and a 14 at the waist and hips. Already it seems like a much better fit. I also made a small bust adjustment, which seemed to help with the fit, although there was still some excess fabric at the side seams to take in. Perhaps I even need to go down to an 8 here?

So it looks like I've taken my next step on the journey for the quest for the perfect fit. This stuff takes time and is an art I'm sure you'll agree. I'll be sure to share my finding with you in future posts.

Construction

The construction of the dress was super easy. Two pattern pieces for the bodice and two for the skirt. It was easy to adjust and fit thanks to the knit fabric.

Adding the band at the waist took a little bit of extra effort and patience, but was well worth it. I cut the band in the direction of the most stretch and made sure I cut it 10-20% shorter than the bodice and skirt waist circumference so it pulled everything in neatly.

I decided to create a binding to finish the armholes and neckline. Again I cut the bindings 10-20% shorter than the circumference of the neckline and armholes to make sure they weren't baggy. I also used our stretch interfacing to make sure they maintain their shape and don't stretch out with wash and wear.

In both instances I quartered the band and the relevant area of the garment to make sure the binding was applied evenly. You can see a video including tips for this technique here.

It was the first time I had sewn a V-neck neck binding so I will write a little tutorial on how I did it in the coming weeks. It was actually pretty easy to do and I am pleased with the end result. Here is the inside.

I was thrilled to use my new Babylock Desire 3 coverlock machine to coverstitch the hems. Oh my goodness what a game changer! I have always had to use twin needles on a sewing machine to hem knit garments previously, but the results with the coverstitch are soooooo professional I never want to go back!

It is so easy to do and there is no tunnelling of the fabric. Both sides look super neat and I didn't have to worry about the fabric stretching out of shape as I sewed.

If you make a lot of knit or jersey garments I can vouch for the fact a coverstitch machine is a worthwhile investment. We have a fantastic range for every budget here.

Final Thoughts

All in all a great little project with some fun techniques thanks to adding the bindings, the V-neck and the waistband.

I absolutely love the flared shape of the skirt and think it hangs beautifully. It is so flattering and so much better than the straight maxi skirt styles you often find on the high street.

I know I will get a huge amount of wear from this dress during the summer months. It is perfect for work, for BBQs and parties and will also make a nice comfy travel outfit for my hols. I'm also planning to make the short sleeved version, view D, in our navy cadiz cotton jersey fabric. I think it would also be a great addition to my every day wardrobe.

I do so love a jersey maxi dress. They keep you cool in the heat, but also cover your legs from nasty midges in the evenings or if the temperature drops.

Shopping List

Have fun sewing!

Lucy

For more tips and tricks on how to make sewing easy you can follow our blog via Bloglovin and receive updates via email each time a new post is added.

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A coverstitch binding attachment will help you to achieve perfect and professional knit and jersey neckbands every time. No more stress, no more holding of breath, just straight forward, easy knit neckbands in one simple step. In this video I'll demonstrate exactly how it works and where you can find the attachment for your coverstitch/coverlock machine to make your perfect jersey neckband dreams a reality!

Sew Perfect Knit Neckbands with a Coverstitch Binding Attachment - YouTube
Shopping List Transcript Intro

Hi and welcome to the Sew Essential vlog, I hope you're well? Today I have a super exciting discovery to share with you. How to create perfect knit and jersey neckbands using a coverstitch binding attachment.

Let me start by showing you just how professional the results are and you will understand why I'm so excited. Just look at this neckline. Here's the front and here's the back. Doesn't it look so professional? I'm sure you'll agree you couldn't wish for a better finish than that?

What's more the attachment makes it so easy to do. You don't have to worry about stretching the binding as you sew or making sure it is tight enough to pull the neckline in, the attachment does it all for you. You just have to remember to leave one of the shoulder seams open and sew the open shoulder once the binding has been attached.

If you haven't seen one before this is what it looks like. I'll be using this one on the Babylock Gloria machine today - you can find the attachment and the machine on our website and the links are below. We also stock these attachments for other models of Babylock coverstitch machines and Brother, Janome, Husqvarna, Pfaff and Elna coverstitch machines plus the machines themselves. You can find the links below. You can create different width bindings depending on the attachment so just check the product descriptions where you will also find the list of compatible machines.

I honestly couldn't believe how easy it was to master and now have an overwhelming urge to make all the Tshirts!

Using a Coverstitch Binding Attachment

You fix the attachment to your coverstitch table using the little screws. You want the end of the binding attachment to be lined up in the correct position with the needles. You may need to move it to the left or the right to get the position right. It is best to run a little test with some spare fabric first to make sure you are happy with the positioning of the stitching lines.

Here I have my neckline mock up and here I have my binding. The binding is cut to the correct width for the attachment in the direction with the most stretch. It is also important to make sure the binding is much longer than your neckline so you have the opportunity to start the binding off before attaching it to the garment.

Start by feeding the binding into the attachment with the wrong side of the fabric facing you. You can use tweezers to help you to do this. Notice I've cut the binding into a little point at the end to help feed it through.

Once it is through the other end of the attachment you can feed the excess through the guide. This helps to prevent the fabric from becoming twisted.

Lift the foot of your machine and pull the binding through and under the foot. Put the foot down. Make sure the fabric is still nice and flat through the guide and start to sew gently holding the fabric at the end of the guide and taking care not to stretch it.

Check you are happy with the positioning of the stitching and everything is feeding through nicely. Next you are going to position your neckline to attach the binding.

Place your garment with the right side of the fabric facing up. Line the edge of the neckline up so it is just touching the binding as it passes through the attachment. As you sew remember to make sure you don't let the garment hang off the table because the weight of the fabric could stretch it out of shape. You also need to make sure the binding remains nice and flat as it feeds through the guide, but be careful not to stretch it.

I'm going to start to sew and you can see the neckline is feeding through with the binding. Stop and reposition if you need to and just take it steady. Keep the garment fabric nice and flat as you sew and make sure the edge of the neckline is just touching the binding.

When you reach the end run the excess binding through. One of the great advantages of my Babylock is that you can run off a chain of stitches without any fabric like with an overlocker. However, on most coverstitch machines you will need to stop at the end of the fabric and pull the threads forward.

There you have it, a beautifully professional neckband. Here's the front - you can see how even and neat the band is. Here's the back, what a lovely finish.

Conclusion

I hope you've enjoyed that little tutorial and you are as excited about this technique as I am?! As I mentioned at the start of the video we stock these attachments for Babylock, Janome, Brother, Husqvarna, Pfaff and Elna machines plus the coverstitch or coverlock machines themselves. You can find them all on our website and the links are below.

If you have any questions or need any advice please don't hesitate to ask, we are more than happy to help.

That's all from me for today, I'll see you next time!

Have fun sewing!

Lucy

For more tips and tricks on how to make sewing easy you can follow our blog via Bloglovin and receive updates via email each time a new post is added.

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Sew Essential by Sew Essential - 3w ago

For the last year I have been working on an extremely exciting project with my friend Anne. Last weekend all our hard work came to fruition and we hosted the Stitch Room Sewcial, a two day sewing event, at Loughborough University. With a truly unique offering of activities and a wonderful group of delegates I think it is safe to say it was a huge success. Find out what we did and more importantly how you can be involved in the next one!

The Event

I met Anne two years ago this August through our mutual love of sewing. Anne is a Technical Tutor on the Textiles: Innovation and Design degree course at Loughborough University and invited me to visit the textile degree show last year. I was blown away by the talent of the students and could have spent all day ogling their beautiful work. Anne asked whether I would like to help her to organise a sewing social event around this year's show and I jumped at the chance! I knew our sewing buddies would be just as excited and enthused as I was and couldn't wait to share it with them.

The delegates would also have the chance to visit the print rooms and weave shed to see demonstrations of how the students create their work. In addition they would benefit from Anne's sewing expertise in a range of demonstrations and have the option to use the industrial machines in the Stitch Room. They would also have full access to a domestic machine to merrily sew away between all of the planned activities.

Anne is a very talented lady who has worked in costume at the Glyndebourne Theatre and on BBC productions amongst a raft of other impressive accolades. She is professionally trained in all aspects garment construction and completed her degree in Fashion Design at Loughborough University under the watchful eye of the world renowned Winifred Aldrich. An opportunity to learn from Anne is a truly wonderful experience. You can follow Anne on Instagram under her Instagram name @new_vintage_sewing

Day One

After coffee and chat in the reception area of the Cope Auditorium we led everyone up to the Stitch Room for an introduction and run through of the packed itinerary. The excitement levels had reached fever pitch by now and there was a real buzz in the air. It was such a treat to see all the beautifully handmade garments people we wearing.

Industrial Machine Demos

Anne demonstrated a number of industrial machines to the ladies including a bias binding machine, an industrial overlocker and a rolled hem machine.

I'm pretty sure the bias binding machine was the firm favourite. It applies the neatest bias binding in a matter of minutes. No fiddling, no faffing. You simply feed a strip of fabric, cut on the bias, through an attachment and it is applied to your garment in one swift step. No need for pinning or pressing. AKA bliss!

The good news is those with a domestic coverstitch machine can experience a taste of this magic! A similar attachment is available for these machines in several sizes. I demonstrated this technique on Angela's Gloria Babylock coverlock machine over the course of the weekend and helped one of the ladies to attach a neckband to the Tshirt she was making. She was thrilled with the results.

I will share a video on our blog and YouTube channel demonstrating this technique in the coming weeks since it proved incredibly popular at the event. The results are so professional and neat and it is so much easier than the conventional method. We also stock the Janome coverstitch neck binding attachments here.

The ladies were also hugely impressed by the industrial irons and ironing boards. They make it a breeze to press even the most stubborn fabrics.

There was even a fitting room was adorned with vintage patterns and fabrics and a giant sewing pattern curtain

Print Rooms and Weave Shed

Next we visited the print rooms and weave shed. The staff did a fantastic job of talking us through the processes used to create the textiles. Some of the delegates were even able to participate and create their own print.

Aside from learning about the processes simply visiting these areas is a magical experience. The weave shed is packed with fascinating machinery such as the enormous traditional wooden looms. The print rooms are brimming with inspiring designs and colours. It certainly got the creative juices flowing!

Lunch and Goody Bags

By this point everyone was ready for a rest and some refreshment. Lunch was provided and the room was beautifully decorated. The table was adorned with a sewing pattern table runner edged with neon tape measures. The chairs were dressed with neon tape measures tied in a bow. A giant photobooth back drop was available for fun photos.

The table centrepiece was a sewing themed cake created by Becca of Calico and Cake in Ashby. She immortalised me and Anne having a fitting sesh in cake. I don't think I need to say anymore - a sewing themed cake!

Once everyone had settled down it was time to hand out the goody bags. We carefully curated each one with the individual in mind. I also need to say a massive thank you to all of the companies who supported us in sponsoring the goody bags for the event, which you can see in the huge poster we displayed in the Stitch Room (see below). I heard several cries of 'it's like Christmas!'

The ladies also had chance to indulge in a pattern and fabric swap in between eating, chatting and enjoying their goody bags.

Photo Shoots

Everybody at the event had the option to sign up for a professional photoshoot with the lovely Jajit who teaches photography at Loughborough University. This was a great chance to get some new social media profile pictures, photograph a latest or favourite make for a blog post or just have some fun.

Here is Hila of Saturday Night Stitch working it! She is a complete natural!

After all of the activities there was time for some sewing then everyone headed back to the hotel/home to get ready for the evening meal. Those staying in accommodation chose to stay at the hotel on campus. The feedback about the hotel was highly complimentary, it even boasts a spa and swimming pool!

Evening Meal

In the evening we enjoyed a delicious meal at the Priory on Nanpantan Road. It was the perfect way to end the day - beautiful surroundings and sparkling company with, of course, plenty of sewing chat!

Day Two Degree Show

Fully refreshed and raring to go we started day two with a tour of the textile degree show. I think I can safely say the delegates were just as awestruck as me when they saw the exhibition. People were simply overwhelmed and desperate to take the pieces home!

Sue of 'Susan Young sewing' commented that she liked the fact the workshops the previous day helped her to understand how the students created the final pieces.

Embroidery

Everyone also had the chance to sign up for a 45 minute machine embroidery session. Bee, one of the lovely technicians at the University, helped each individual to create a design of their choice. Becca of RedWSews embroidered some back pockets for one of her current projects, the Ginger jeans.

As huge embroidery machine fans here at Sew Essential it was great to see people having fun with these machines.

Sewing

There was plenty of time for more sewing and further demonstrations from Anne. Anne demonstrated ruffling feet, gathering feet and pintuck feet amongst others. We stock these feet for all the major brands you can find them here just remember to check the compatibility charts for your machine.

Everyone loved the giant cutting out tables!

Thank You

I would like to say a massive thank you to Loughborough University who so kindly supported us and the event. Special thanks go to Bee, Sam (who took many of the photographs above), Darren, Alice, Andy, Jajit and Tessa. It was a wonderful opportunity to showcase the fantastic facilities at the University and I know the delegates were thoroughly impressed.

Also a massive thank you to our goody bag sponsors. I'm sure many a make will be born out of the plentiful supplies so kindly gifted.

Next Year

So the big question is: when can I go?! It isn't confirmed yet, but we do hope to host another event next year. The best way to keep abreast of ticket sales is to follow @sewessentialuk and @new_vintage_sewing on Instagram.

If you want to get a really good feel for the event we will also share a video of the event in the coming weeks so stay tuned!

Have fun sewing!

Lucy

For more tips and tricks on how to make sewing easy you can follow our blog via Bloglovin and receive updates via email each time a new post is added.

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Sewing an invisible zipper strikes fear into the hearts of many a sewist! One of the main challenges is avoiding that annoying bubble that can occur at the end of the zip. In this handy tutorial we'll show you how to prevent the bubble and remove the challenge of sewing around the zipper. It's a goodie!

For this method of invisible zip insertion you will need an invisible zip that is around 3" longer than the required finished length. This is crucial to avoiding sewing round the zipper and those ugly bubbles!

First prepare the centre back seam of your garment. Finish the raw edges of the seam allowances with your preferred method then sew a long basting stitch where the zip will be positioned. Next sew with a normal stitch length beyond this point and to the hem.

Press the seam allowances open and use tailors chalk or a chaco pen to mark the point where your zip will start at the top. How far down the zip needs to be depends on the thickness of the fabric and how the neckline will be finished. Here I am working with denim so have positioned the zip to allow for the thickness of the fabric.

A useful tip is to also mark the midway point on your zip tapes and both seam allowances. This will enable you to make sure your zip is lined up correctly on each side when you come to sew it in place. If you are sewing a dress with a waist seam you could use the waist seam as your marker.

Now it is time to temporarily fix the zip in place ready for sewing. I like to use basting tape for this job. It is a double sided transparent tape that washes away. I find it much easier than pins and it is also easy to reposition the tapes if you go wrong. Remember to make sure your chalk markings on the zip tapes and seam allowances line up.

I also hand basted the zip in place using top stitching thread for extra security. This step only takes a few minutes, but will help you to get excellent results.

Next unpick the basting stitches along the centre back seam.

Now for the really clever bit! Slide a long pair of tweezers or a hemostat, if you have one, between the loose excess zip at the bottom of the garment and up through the little gap in the fabric. Grasp the zipper and pull it down until you can grab it with your fingers. If using tweezers you may need to push it down from the other end too to get it through.

Here you can see what I'm doing from the right side:

And the wrong side:

Pull the zipper all the way to the end.

Next sew the invisible zip into place in the normal way. I like to use an invisible zipper foot to get nice and close to the teeth. Make sure you sew just past where you want the zip to end, about half an inch or so.

Now you're ready to see the magic. Grab the zipper and pull it all the way to the top of the garment in one simple move. No need to manoeuvre round the zipper or sew up the little gap between the seam allowances and where the zipper ends, it is already done!

To shorten the excess zip length simply sew some zig zag stitches across the zip where you want it to end to create a new stopper then snip the ends off with your scissors.

You will be left with a lovely neat zip - no bubbles and no stress!

We hope you've enjoyed this super tip as much as we have!

Have fun sewing!

Lucy

For more tips and tricks on how to make sewing easy you can follow our blog via Bloglovin and receive updates via email each time a new post is added.

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May was a busy month as always, but I managed to find time to focus on wearing my handmade wardrobe more - yay! I took part in Me Made May an initiative organised by a lovely blogger called Zoe to help sewists improve their relationship with their handmade wardrobe. I pledged to wear as much handmade as I could in the month of May - find out how I got on in our latest vlog.

My Handmade Wardrobe #memademay2018 - YouTube

 

Transcript

Hi and welcome to the Sew Essential vlog, I hope you are well? This month I thought it would be a nice opportunity to reflect on my participation in Me Made May. If you aren't familiar with MMMay a lovely lady named Zoe set the initiative up nine years ago. The idea is to make a pledge regarding your handmade wardrobe in the month of May and see how you get on. Here's what I did. As always you can find links to our website and the blog where you will find details of my makes below.

My Pledge

Many of the participants pledge to wear me made every day, however, I knew I'm not really in a position to do that just yet. Therefore I decided to keep it simple and pledge to wear me made as often as I could. In previous years I had only ever managed a couple of days. This time I knew I could do a lot better.

The Outfits

In no particular order here is what I wore:

The McCalls Parrot Dress

This is one of my favourite dresses I've ever made. You can find the blog post here. It is McCalls 7591 in our double georgette parrot fabric lined with our polycotton in navy.

I wore this dress for a BBQ we hosted at our house one wonderfully warm Saturday evening with flat sandals for a casual look. It is always a firm favourite in my holiday wardrobe too where I like to dress it up with heels.

Thanks to the elasticated waist it is super comfy and easy to throw on. The polycotton and ultra lightweight georgette mean it is cool in the heat too. I love the racer back and cross over bodice plus the little slit at the front. Such great little details and all in all a brilliant summer dress.

The Simplicity Vintage Pencil Skirt

Every year as soon as the weather warms up I reach for this Simplicity pencil skirt. I think pencil skirts can feel incredibly formal, however, thanks to the soft cotton sateen fabric I used this skirt feels easy to wear for every day. I dress it down with this simple black top and casual black sandals, but I can also dress it up with a pink cami and heels.

Sadly the pattern has been discontinued, but we have a wide range of alternative suitable pencil skirt patterns to choose from here. This particular Ohio print is no longer available, but we have several alternatives, one in the same colourway here.

The Simplicity Wrap Dress

This wrap dress is one of my latest makes and I could not wait to wear it! It is Simplicity 8608 in our black floral viscose fabric.

I modified the sleeves from a full length flared sleeve to an elbow length sleeve with a double cuff. I felt this gave the dress a nice casual feel. Paired with casual black sandals and my denim jacket I feel extremely comfortable, feminine and confident in this make.

I had to stitch the neckline together to stop it gaping, but I'm really pleased with the results. I love the fact the skirt has a false overlay rather than being a real wrap so you don't have to worry about it flapping open. I chose the wider tie and think it looks better tied at the side to emphasise the wrap look.

The Burda T Shirt Dress

I made this Tshirt dress last year and it is one of my most worn makes. I've worn it at least three times this month. The original pattern is Burda 6540 which is actually a loose fitting slash neck design. I decided to modify the neckline to a round neck then sewed some 1/4" elastic in at the waist to create the blouson effect. I created a spaghetti strap and hand sewed it on as a false tie.

This dress is so easy to wear, chuck it on over your head and add sandals and you're ready to go. The fabric is no longer available, but we have a fantastic range of patterned jersey fabrics available here to choose from.

The Tilly and the Buttons Agnes Top

This pattern is a firm favourite in my wardrobe all year round. It is the Agnes top by Tilly and the Buttons. I've made it four times and it is perfect for those days when a jumper isn't necessary, but it is just a little bit too cool for short sleeves. Having said that, you can make the short sleeve version too.

This is far and away my favourite version of the top in our black and wine leopard print jersey fabric. You can find our full range of patterned jersey fabrics here.

Worn with black skinny jeans, my Converse trainers and a leather jacket it feels like a glamorous take on a super casual outfit. I've worn it twice in May and know it will feature heavily in my Autumn wardrobe too.

The Black Scuba Skirt

This scuba skirt is also a firm favourite in my handmade wardrobe. It is one of my most simple, unexciting makes, but one of my most worn. A true wardrobe staple.

The pattern is Simplicity 1370 which I modified to include an exposed zip at the back. The fabric is the most beautiful quality John Kaldor scuba fabric.

I wear this skirt on colder days with thick black tights and a colourful top. It is comfortable, fits perfectly and feels smart without being too formal.

The Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse

This Sew Over It pussy bow blouse is another of my more recent makes and I love it. I've worn this at least twice this month. I made it in one of our viscose fabrics and it is so comfortable to wear.

I think the cut is incredibly flattering and found the fit to be excellent. It is also a nice simple make since there are no fastenings apart from the cuff buttons and loops.

I would definitely make this pattern again and would like to try making a version minus the bow. The neckline is lovely and not too low.

Conclusion

As the month progressed I was worried I might be disappointed with my efforts, but actually I think I've done very well. I've worn me made items 13 days out of 31 so 42% of the month. In previous years I've only ever managed a few days so I'm thrilled to have managed so many different outfits on so many different days.

If you haven't ever taken part in Me Made May I highly recommend it. Sitting down and reflecting like this has definitely boosted my motivation and made feel a great sense of achievement. I can see my progress and my improving ability to pair patterns and fabrics and create garments I will want to wear again and again.

Making every day wear is important but interesting twists and details make them stand out from my ready to wear items. I am finally getting the hang of dresses and skirts for day wear! In fact, you can see my next project hanging behind me.

Have fun sewing!

Lucy

For more tips and tricks on how to make sewing easy you can follow our blog via Bloglovin and receive updates via email each time a new post is added.

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I've been meaning to sew a wrap dress forever and I finally got around to it. Whilst looking for inspiration I stumbled across a lovely ready to wear dress and instantly knew Simplicity 8608 was just the ticket.

Pattern Choice

If you saw my post last week you will have seen the ready to wear inspiration. If not here it is:

To get the look I chose view B and just needed to adapt the sleeves. You can read a full tutorial on how I did this here.

I also liked the way the Simplicity pattern is actually a false overlay so not a real wrap dress. There is a full skirt underneath with an overlay over the top to create the wrap look. In other words I wouldn't be living in constant fear of flashing my knickers!

Fabric Choice

I chose our lovely lightweight viscose fabric in a black floral design for the dress. I thought the print was stunning and the fabric is lovely and cool thanks to the natural fibres. It also has excellent drape, perfect for this dress, and is available in a range of prints and colourways.

Sizing and Adjustments

I cut a size 12 based on my bust measurement. The waist was a couple of inches smaller than my measurements, but it is an elasticated waist so I knew it would still fit. It is also a blouson effect and I didn't want too much excess fabric at the waist so I knew a smaller size would help to reduce this a little. If I made it again I might even take the bodice in further at the side seams.

I made my usual high round back adjustment and brought the left shoulder seam forward 1/4".

Before sewing the dress I checked the neckline using the pattern pieces to make sure it wasn't too low. However, made up in the fabric the neckline did gape once I started moving around. This was simple enough to fix. I tried the dress on, pinned the neckline where it sat naturally when I was standing still then hand sewed the facings together where they overlapped. It still hangs nicely and doesn't look like it has been awkwardly sewn together, but I don't have to worry about showing my bra to the world.

I also chose to sew the thicker waist tie rather than the suggested thinner one for this view. Partly to mimic the ready to wear dress, but also because I felt the thinner belt would be lost in the dress. The thicker belt also helps to pull you in at the waist more so all in all a good choice I think. Tying it at the side creates the illusion of a real wrap dress.

Thanks to the elasticated waist the dress was very easy to fit and I'm really pleased with the final fit.

Construction Sleeves

As mentioned earlier I changed the sleeves from a flared full length sleeve to a sleeve that finished above the elbow with a double cuff. I thought this gave the dress a more casual, every day feel and was better for summer. You can see the tutorial on how I did this in last week's blog post.

Facings

The dress was incredibly easy to sew, the only thing I might do differently next time is finish the neckline with a binding. The neckline is finished with a facing and I found that the facings were catching on my bra cups causing the neckline to gape. As mentioned above this was simple enough to fix with a few hand stitches, but I do think the facings exaggerated the problem.

Overlay

I made a faux par with the overlay and cut it out with the pattern piece the wrong way round. Goodness knows how I managed this. You know how it is when you just want to get that boring cutting out done and start sewing!

I panicked when I realised thinking I would have to get some more fabric and cut it out again. The curve of the overlay was on the wrong side and wouldn't meet with the overlap on the bodice. I thought my sewing for the evening would have to grind to a halt and was feeling very grumpy about my stupidity.

Then I had a brainwave! It didn't really matter which side the dress wrapped over. There are no rules or laws to say it must be on one side or another. The bodice was only basted together at the hem so I unpicked the basting, overlapped it the opposite way and it now met up with my overlay. Hurrah!

I still get such pleasure from the patience and willingness to try and problem solve I now have as a result of sewing. In the past I would have packed up and gone running to Angela for advice the next day. Now I'll persevere that little bit longer and often come up with the solution myself. So satisfying and thanks to everything Angela has taught me.

Final Thoughts

I'm sure this dress will be a firm favourite in my spring, summer and autumn wardrobes. I can skip about bare legged in sandals or pumps in warmer weather then add the old faithful opaque tights when it gets a bit nippy. It was also fun to dress it up with heels so all in all a super versatile and wearable addition to the old handmade wardrobe.

I should also mention it will be my entry for the #sewtogetherforsummer competition on Instagram, a fun initiative with a wrap dress theme this year.

Shopping List

Have fun sewing!

Lucy

For more tips and tricks on how to make sewing easy you can follow our blog via Bloglovin and receive updates via email each time a new post is added.

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This double cuff tutorial is a great way to change the sleeve design of a garment. I always think a rolled up cuff looks modern and casual. A kind of 'I just threw this on, but my look is totally put together' vibe. Learn how to do it in just a few easy steps.

Inspiration

Inspired by this ready to wear dress I recently decided to make view B of the gorgeous new Simplicity 8608 pattern.

To get the look I needed to adapt the sleeve design. On the ready to wear dress the sleeve was simply rolled up. However, Angela suggested I add a double cuff. This would look more professional and you wouldn't see the wrong side of the fabric where the sleeves were rolled up. Here's how I did it:

Sewing the Double Cuff

I measured the original sleeve pattern piece against my arm and identified where I wanted the sleeve to finish. Then I added the necessary cuff length by measuring how deep I wanted the finished, folded cuff to be and multiplying by four taking into account the seam allowance.

In my case the original sleeve pattern was flared at the end and much wider than it needed to be for the cuff. Therefore I pinned the sleeve seam and tried it on then pinned the new seamline tapering back to the original seamline at the armhole. It was important to remember not to make the sleeve too tight so I was able to get it on and off.

Once the sleeve is the correct length sew the sleeve seam.

If necessary apply a suitable interfacing to the cuff section of the fabric. I was working with a lightweight, drapey viscose fabric and applied a lightweight interfacing because I wanted the cuff to have some structure. If you are working with a heavier fabric, such as a cotton poplin, you might only need to interface half of the cuff section or none at all.

Turn the sleeve the right way and fold the raw edge of the sleeve inside itself until the raw edge lines up with the point where the interfacing finishes. This is only the case if you are interfacing the whole cuff section. If you are only partially interfacing, or not at all, fold the sleeve inside itself until the raw edge is where you want the cuff to start.

Turn the cuff back on the sleeve and pin in place where the fold meets the raw edge.

Remove the blade from your overlocker. This is very important otherwise you might cut a hole in your sleeve! Position the raw edge and fold accordingly on your overlocker and stitch in place making sure the stitches encase the raw edge.

You have now stitched the cuff in place and finished the raw edges in one simple step.

Press the seam allowance towards your sleeve. I used a sleeve press, which is inserted inside the sleeve before pressing.

Turn the sleeve the right way and you have a neat cuff.

Finally fold the cuff back on itself and you have your casual rolled up sleeve look without the wrong side of the fabric showing. I slip stitched round the cuff edge to secure it.

I hope you've enjoyed this handy tutorial I thought it was such a clever little tip. Stay tuned to see the finished dress next week.

Have fun sewing!

Lucy and Angela

For more tips and tricks on how to make sewing easy you can follow our blog via Bloglovin and receive updates via email each time a new post is added.

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Summer prom and special occasion season is nearly upon us. If you are tasked with making your own or someone else's dream gown here is some inspiration to get the creative juices flowing! If your summer prom days are long behind you fear not these patterns and fabrics are also ideal for weddings, cruises and summer balls or any other special occasion. Seven stunning dress patterns and gorgeous fabrics perfect for the Belle of the ball.

The One Shoulder Prom Dress

One shoulder dresses are a hugely popular trend right now. This Burda pattern is a great one shoulder design with some real wow factor created by the dramatic full skirt and bow on the shoulder. Our Prestige crepe or Duchesse satin teamed with our Tocca lace complete with scalloped edge would have you rocking that one shoulder trend in style.

The Vintage Prom Dress Pattern

If you love channelling your inner Hollywood siren this Simplicity pattern is a great way to ooze 1950s glamour. Our satin or crushed taffeta fabrics are the perfect pairing creating some serious vintage va va voom!

The Grecian Prom Dress Pattern

With a small bust I always find a halter neck dress to be such a flattering cut. I'm not quite sure about the plunging keyhole design in the ready to wear dress pictured, but think this Butterick pattern would make a great alternative. View A shows off the shoulder and neck area with a clever and unusual design. The straps you can see at the front fill out to create a fuller bodice piece at the back. I do so love an interesting design detail!

Make it up in our satin backed crepe and get ready to accept a rush of complements from fellow party goers.

The Plunging Neckline Prom Dress

This classic, simple design with a plunging neckline and full length skirt is sure to turn heads. I would argue that this Vogue pattern is a more demure version thanks to the omission of the thigh slit, although this would be easy enough to add in if you wanted to show some leg! The waterfall feature at the back of the dress is a fun feature and shows the fabric off beautifully.

Our Mystique satin backed crepe is perfect for recreating this look and is available in a wide range of colours.

Skater Dress Prom Dress Pattern

I love this skater dress design. The fitted bodice and sweetheart neckline combined with a skater skirt create a slimming effect at the waistline. If you're pear shaped or conscious of your hip or thigh area it is a great design for drawing attention to the other areas of your body.

Recreate the look with McCalls 6646 with straps and strapless options plus different length skirts to choose from too. We think it would look great in our high quality John Kaldor crushed taffeta fabric available in a wide range of colours. My personal favourite has to be the cerise or the classic midnight blue.

Don't forget we also stock the boning and a range of trimmings for those special finishing touches.

The Strapless Full Length Prom Dress

A strapless, fitted bodice and full length skirt are a classic ball gown combination. I love the way the designer has added their own unique twist to the skirt of this dress. This Vogue pattern is based on the same winning formula and will certainly wow the crowds. The ruffles are bang on trend and create a real sense of drama on an otherwise classic design.

Our John Kaldor Prestige crepe fabric is available in a wide range of colours so you can create your own unique ruffle colour combination.

Sheer Overlay Prom Dress Pattern

As a lover of lace I do love a dress with a sheer overlay. McCalls 6893 offers a number of options for using a sheer overlay and I especially love the full length halter version shown in red on the packet above.

Our luxurious satin or classic Prestige crepe combined with our beautiful Tocca lace would work brilliantly with this pattern. All are available in a wide range of colours that complement each other beautifully. The Tocca lace also has a scalloped edge, which can be used as a pretty finished edge on your garment.

Don't forget you can pick up all the extras and notions you need for any of these dresses from our extensive range of linings, invisible zips, boning and those all important sparkly trimmings too!

Have fun sewing!

Lucy and Angela

For more tips and tricks on how to make sewing easy you can follow our blog via Bloglovin and receive updates via email each time a new post is added.

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It seems like Spring might just actually be here and I need something to wear! I have been so used to fumbling around in the dark to grab ANOTHER jumper each morning that I hadn't actually thought about what I might wear if the sun finally made an appearance. Well apparently there is a distinct shortage on the short sleeved top front. In other words the perfect excuse to make another item on my #makenine list - the Pendrell blouse by Sewaholic. I made it in our gorgeously pretty and drapey new viscose fabric and I love it!

Sizing and Adjustments

I had originally planned to make view B, the ruffled sleeve version. However, the fabric is so pretty and feminine I thought the structure of the pleated sleeves (view A) would work better and balance things out.

I cut a size 8, which was pretty much bang on my measurements apart from the hips. Sewaholic patterns are designed with a pear shape in mind so the hips are always proportionally larger than the rest of the measurements. It is easy enough to rectify if you aren't pear shaped by grading the pattern. In the case of this top I thought I could just take the side seams in if necessary. I had to take the side seams in 1/2" from the armhole tapering back to the standard seamline about 8" down.

I also made my usual high round back adjustment. At first I wasn't sure how to approach this due to the princess seam. I spoke to Angela and she advised me to lie the side back and back pattern pieces next to each other and match the notches. Next I eased in the pattern piece in as I would with the fabric. When I slashed the back piece I carried it across at the relevant point on the side back piece. When I added the tissue in to fill the gap I made sure it tapered across the two pattern pieces consistently.

I completely forgot to check whether I needed to move the shoulder seams forward before cutting out the fabric. I always need to move them forward so I used the seam allowances to move the seam forward 1/4". This left me with a 3/8" seam on the back piece, which was ample.

The final adjustment I made was to cut a whopping 4 and 1/2" off the hem! I am 5' 6", so not particularly petite, and the blouse seemed incredibly long. Even cutting the 4 and 1/2" off I still have the option to tuck the blouse in and am very happy with the final fit.

Construction

This was such a fun pattern to make! Firstly there are detailed sew along tutorials on the Sewaholic website for each and every stage. If something isn't quite making sense you can refer to them for clarification. Having said that, the instructions included with the pattern are excellent. This is the third Sewaholic pattern I've made (I also made the Rae skirt and the Saltspring dress) and I've always been impressed with the instructions.

The Sleeves

Secondly - the sleeves. I LOVE the sleeves and they were so fun to make. The pattern piece is one of the weirdest pattern pieces I've ever seen. I just couldn't work out how it was going to make a sleeve and automatically assumed it would be a complicated procedure.

However, I am pleased to report this was the most fun part of the making. First you fold the fabric wrong sides together. The folded edge forms the bottom of the sleeve. No finishing necessary - yes! Then you create the pleats on the opposite side, which is sewn into the princess seam. I mean how clever is that? The most fun and easy sleeves I've ever sewn and they look so pretty too.

The multiple layers of fabric created a lot of bulk where the sleeves were inserted into the princess seam. The instructions didn't suggest trimming or grading the seams, but I trimmed the pleat seam allowances to remove some of the bulk.

Armhole and Neckline Binding

The armholes and neckline are finished with a binding that you turn inside the blouse and topstitch in place. In other words the binding isn't visible from the right side. It gives a lovely neat finish, although I did struggle to keep an even amount of binding on the inside. I think this was due to the nature of the super drapey viscose fabric I used moving around a bit.

I found that using my 1/4" foot helped with this when I was working with narrow widths of fabric because more of the foot had contact with the fabric than if I used a standard foot. However, it didn't eradicate the problem completely.

Everything made sense and came together really well. It didn't take long at all to whip this little beauty up.

Final Thoughts

I'm really pleased with how this blouse turned out. It was very quick, easy and fun to make and I know I will wear it all the time. It is simple and understated enough to wear every day, but has some fun little details for an interesting twist. I'd definitely make it again, perhaps trying the ruffle sleeve version next time in a plain fabric such as our Prestige crepe in ivory.

Shopping List

Have fun sewing!

Lucy

For more tips and tricks on how to make sewing easy you can follow our blog via Bloglovin and receive updates via email each time a new post is added.

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Hi and welcome to the Sew Essential vlog. Today I wanted to share some of the fantastic new products we've recently added to the website. There are so many fun and inventive products to make your life easier and help you to get great results with your sewing projects. These are just a few of my favourites - I would be here all day if I tried to talk about all of them! As always the links to our website where you can find the products are below.

Our Favourite New Sewing Gadgets - YouTube

 

Transcript Point Presser and Clapper

The first product I want to show you is this point presser and clapper. We commissioned a local craftsman to handcraft these from hardwood. Each and every one has been lovingly made by hand here in the UK. So what do you use them for?

Firstly the point is used for pressing hard to reach areas you can't flatten out easily for pressing. For example the point of a collar, the bottom corner of a jacket, the points in cuffs, lapels. Here I have a sample collar I made. You simply slide the fabric along the wood and the point allows you to get right into the corner. Then press. Repeat on the other side.

Turn the collar through, roll it under and press then use the clapper to stamp down on the fabric. The stamping action punches the steam through the fabric and creates an unrivalled professional, crisp edge. Keep the clapper there until the steam has been absorbed into the wood, a couple of minutes.

If you're looking for a really professional finish on your garments good pressing is absolutely vital. This tool will take your sewing to the next level and is used by professional tailors and dressmakers. There's nothing more frustrating than struggling to get into those hard to reach areas when pressing, especially when you know it will let the overall look and finish of your garment down.

Another tip from the professionals is to use silk organza as a pressing cloth. We sell it the half metre. If you cut half a metre in half again and overlock the edges you have created yourself the perfect pressing cloth. Transparent so you can see exactly what you are doing and capable of withstanding the highest temperatures and protecting your garment. You can even create a little loop using ribbon to slide it onto your wrist for ease of use.

This best press spray is also fantastic for pressing. If you accidentally press a crease in the wrong place or are struggling to get creases out of a fabric after washing spray it on and press for great results.

Simflex Sewing Gauge

Next up this little fella - the Simflex sewing gauge. This tool is absolutely brilliant for achieving accurate spacing on garments. For example when marking buttonholes. It is pretty fiddly/tiresome/boring sitting and marking each and every buttonhole with a tape measure - right? With this gauge you decide how far apart you would like your buttons, set the gauge and mark them on the fabric. You can also use the little grooves here to mark where to sew the buttons on the other side of the garment so they marry up.

There are also markings for 1/4" 1/2" and 3/4" alongside this hole so you can accurately mark the size of the buttonholes.

You can also use it for pleats, scallops, smocking, shirring, anywhere you need to create accurate spacing quickly and efficiently.

There are also markings for 1" to 6" down each of the spacers. If you wanted to mark something at regular intervals 3" from the edge of the fabric for example.

Prym Mini Iron, Mini Ironing Board and Iron Rest

We also have these fab little steam irons from Prym. These are great if you don't have a dedicated sewing space where you can leave your full size iron and ironing board up. Or if you want to work on small areas and have more visibility. You know those times when you don't want a full sized iron getting in the way and obscuring your view. Like certain crafts, small areas in dressmaking and quilting. They are also great if you don't have lots of room to fit a full size iron in your workspace. They are lightweight and easy to handle and manouvere too. They also make a handy little travel iron.

If you are short on space these mini ironing boards are also excellent. You can even use this on top of your work surface or desk. They are also excellent for pressing anything tubular such as trouser legs or wide sleeves.

Finally we have these silicon iron rests. If you are working without a full size ironing board you can rest your iron (full size or mini) on this pad and your work surface or table will be protected.

Pattern Weights

These new pattern weights are so lovely I just had to share them. The designs are absolutely beautiful - here I have bees, dressmaking themes and party rings. There are a whole host of other designs on our site. They are available in 40mm, 50mm and 60mm - the smallest come as a set of six and the 40mm and 50mm are available in sets of four.

What I really love about these is the fact they are a good weight, however, they are nice and slimline. This makes cutting round them so, so easy whilst holding the pattern pieces in place. They are such a super little product perfect for brightening up your sewing room and lovely as a gift.

True Bias Sewing Patterns

Next up I'm very excited to share a new pattern range we've added to the website. We are now stocking True Bias patterns. Here I've got the Lodo, Nikko, Roscoe and Hudson patterns. we are also just waiting for a shipment of more Ogden camis and Lander pants, which have been super popular.

They are an incredibly fashion forward brand of sewing patterns and we are thrilled to be stocking them.

Pressing Aid

We also have these pressing aids to help with accurate pressing in areas such as hems, pockets and collars. These little perforations allow you to either mark your fabric or as a marking to line your fabric up with as you fold it round. For example if you want to sew a 5/8" hem just mark or line your fabric up with the relevant point and you will get an accurate measurement all the way along.

The straight and curved edges mean you can use them for straight and curved hems and areas such as pockets. They are made from a flexible heat proof material they are easy to manoeuvre and get into position.

There is also no build up of moisture on your fabric thanks to the perforations.

A really super little tool that again speeds up one of the tedious steps in your sewing projects so you can spend more time on the fun bits.

Deluxe LED Needle Threader

This needle threader is another innovative little product to make life easier. It comes with an LED light to light up the needle eye and wire for ease of threading. The wire retracts away when not in use and it also includes a thread cutter. The battery is long life and lasts for up to 3000 needles. Plus it also has a hole to attach it to a lanyard so you never lose it. Say goodbye to straining your eyes!

I hope you've enjoyed that little round up. Remember there are so many other new products on the website too - come and have a nosey!

Have fun sewing!

Lucy

For more tips and tricks on how to make sewing easy you can follow our blog via Bloglovin and receive updates via email each time a new post is added.

Follow us on Facebook Twitter and Instagram for news, tutorials, special offers, sales and more.

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