Posted in Projects on Wednesday the 14th February 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
If you find that clothes strain at the back, and you end up buying a bigger size that then doesn’t fit your front, chances are you have a broad back. If clothes stand away from your spine along the centre of your back, then a narrow back adjustment can help. This is the real beauty of dress-making, you can fine tune the fit exactly where you need it. This technique involves slashing and spreading/overlapping areas of your pattern pieces.
Some patterns will come with an adjustment line for narrow or broad backs drawn on. If your pattern doesn’t, draw a vertical line down from the shoulder, 3 cm from the armhole to just below the bottom of the armhole. Draw a second line at a right angle from this point.
Cut along the 2 lines, and slide the armhole side over, lapping the paper. Stick in place. There are no hard and fast rules, but generally a small ¼ inch adjustment is enough. Play around with this amount as you develop your fitting skills.
Use a ruler and pencil to true up(match) and re-draw the side seam.
You’ll now need to make the front shoulder a little shorter. Line up the notches on the shoulder ensuring sure the neckline is lined up. The front will be a little longer than the newly adjusted back shoulder. Draw a new narrower line from the back around the front, trimming a little of the front armhole away. NB- Make sure your new curved line is smooth at the shoulder.
Start in the same way as a narrow back adjustment drawing the 2 lines and cutting.
Instead of overlapping the cut pattern pieces, spread them. Again there are no hard and fast rules, but a ¼- ½ inch adjustment is usually enough.
Fill in the space with some tracing paper and stick together.
Use a ruler and a pencil to true up and re-draw the outside of the side seam.
This time you’ll need to make the front shoulder a little longer. Again line up the shoulder seams, ensuring neckline is aligned. Place some paper underneath the shoulder area. Draw a curve line from the back shoulder down towards the front armhole, adding a sliver to the front shoulder and armhole. Check that you’ve drawn a smooth line over the shoulder
Making Back Adjustments on a Princess Seam Pattern
So how do you alter the back of patterns with shaped seam lines like princess seams? The principles are much the same, spreading and adding for a broad back, reducing for a narrow back.
Shoulder Princess Seams
The easiest way to approach this is by either increasing the seam allowances where you need extra width, or to take them in to adjust for a narrow back.
Armhole Princess Seams
Mark the adjustment lines as before on the centre back panel.
For a broad back, spread the armhole section as before, then re-draw a new wider seam line, truing up the edges of the shoulder and the princess seam line
For a narrow back, over-lap the armhole section, and trim away the excess along the princess seam to true.
Posted in Projects on Tuesday the 13th February 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Projects on Monday the 12th February 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Whilst perusing Minerva’s website on the prowl for pretty fabrics, this stunning floral print viscose/rayon challis dress fabric jumped out at me (unforetunately it has now sold out on the Minerva site, but there are other alternative Viscose Fabrics to choose from). It comes in four different colourways - bright pink, golden yellow, grassy green and turquoise. I liked the yellow and the pink best of all and had a hard time deciding between them! Once I had settled on pink, I knew I had to find a pattern to showcase the fabric - a circle skirt felt like the obvious choice, and a simple bodice. I chose Butterick Sewing Pattern B5748, which is from their ‘Retro’ range and is a reproduction of an original 1960 pattern, although the design is more of a classic 1950s style.
The fabric is 56” wide, which makes it perfect for a circle skirt, and the print isn’t clearly directional, meaning it can be cut crosswise.
The drape is beautiful and the fabric is lovely and soft. It even has some very subtle glitter detail which you can see closer up. I fully lined my dress with some ‘anti-static’ lining, which gives the skirt extra fullness and swooshiness, and it means I don’t need to wear a slip underneath. The main fabric and lining both handled very well during sewing. Once the dress was sewn, I left it to hang on my dressmaker’s dummy for just under 48 hours to let the fabric drop. The viscose certainly benefited from this, and it took me a good few hours to even it all out and then hem both layers. I didn’t hand stitch the hem, because...well, I just didn’t want to! Once I had trimmed it all level, I overlocked the edges of the skirt and lining and then turned each layer twice and stitched each with a narrow hem.
The pattern design is lovely. It only uses four pattern pieces - front bodice, back bodice, front skirt and back skirt! There are options to have a little slit at the front or back, or a bow at the front or back, but because the fabric I chose is such a large and striking print, I wanted to keep the design of the dress as simple as possible.
A detail that I really like about the dress is the low, scoop back, and the fact that the zip is a side zip rather than a centre back zip. It makes it so much easier to zip and unzip by oneself, and it means the back is super neat and tidy. I used a regular dress zipper for the side opening, which I sewed as a centred zip. It’s neat enough and not noticeable tucked away under my arm. I think the pattern would be suitable even for beginner sewers.
The sewing was straightforward and the instructions were easy to follow. All the notches and seams etc matched up perfectly, so I was very happy with the quality of the pattern. When the dress is hanging inside out, as beautiful as that viscose print is, seeing it with the lining side out it makes you realise how stunning this dress would be in a solid colour as well. It’s definitely a pattern I would like to reuse for a future dress.
Fit-wise, on the whole I am happy although it is a little loose under the bust despite some alterations here. On the photo you might notice a large horizontal crease at the front waist - this is due to me having been sitting travelling in a car, four trains and a taxi over a period of four hours before the photos were taken. Ideally I would have had my photo taken when the dress was fresh on, but life is rarely ideal these days. I wore the dress for the entire day - the journey back involving two buses, three trains and a car journey - and it was very comfortable to wear and didn’t dig in anywhere - which is a bonus of not over-fitting! It was a beautiful warm and sunny day when I wore it, and I felt very spring-like and bright and happy (not least because I went to meet up with two of my best friends).
The dress definitely fits into the occasion-wear category, not being really practical for walking kids to school etc as circle skirts and windy days do not mix well! It looks even better with a 50s style tulle petticoat underneath - and it would be great to wear to a wedding or garden party of some sort.
Louise @ Thread Carefully
Posted in Product Reviews on Sunday the 11th February 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
I jumped at the chance to review this Mermaid Sequin Fabric. I love anything sparkly and I’ve been coveting this reversible fabric for ages. Be warned, you may spend longer playing with the fabric than you do sewing with it!
I’ve never sewn with sequins before and wanted to stick to a simple pattern without darts or multiple seams. I opted to make a simple fitted pencil skirt from the book ‘Gertie Sews Vintage Casual’. The fabric has a bit of stretch across the width and none on the length, ideal for something figure hugging. (Since this fabric doesn’t have a huge amount of stretch, you may need to size up. I can just about get this on and off but it involves an awful lot of wiggling!)
The pattern is really simple, with just two pattern pieces, a front and a back. I cut each piece in a single layer as cutting through sequins is not easy. A word of warning, tiny pieces of sharp sequin will fly everywhere. I managed to get a piece in my eye, thankfully without doing any damage. Through trial and error, I found the best method is to lay your fabric sequin side down and cut slowly. It really helps to minimise the amount of bits flying up.
The aftermath of cutting two skirt seams. This stuff gets absolutely everywhere.
Being a sequin newbie, I found lots of information online that says to cut away the sequins from your seam allowance before sewing. I started doing this, but it was so fiddly and time consuming I gave up pretty quickly.
Instead, I brushed aside the sequins each side of my seam allowance. This left a clear sewing line with no sequins. I also used a size 16 leather needle when sewing my fabric. It meant any sequins I did manage to sew through didn’t result in a broken needle.
After my front and back pieces were sewn together, I flipped the sequins over and ended up with an almost invisible seam.
The base fabric that the sequins are attached to is very see through and would most likely be very uncomfortable if worn next to your skin. I used a Stretch Lining Fabric in a beige/nude colour. Underneath the sequin fabric it’s not noticeable at all. It also means the skirt is easier to get on and off as the lining is very smooth and silky.
Once the lining and waistband elastic was inserted, I hand stitched the hem to the lining. Hand stitching obviously takes longer but it meant I could avoid sewing through anymore sequins.
I love love love the finished skirt and will more than likely use this fabric again. Yes, it is very time consuming but you definitely end up with a showstopper garment. If you’re looking to make an impact, definitely go for reversible sequin fabric.
Thanks for reading,
Posted in Product Reviews on Saturday the 10th February 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Projects on Friday the 9th February 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Projects on Thursday the 8th February 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
This reversible Velour Fabric, ladies and gents, is something else! I have never worked with anything like it and I highly recommend you get involved.
I originally asked or 2 metres of this purple and blue velour with the intention of making a full, velvety dress. Then the fabric arrived and I very quickly changed my mind, the fabric is super thick and cosy and whilst I probably could have made a dress, the fabric screamed sweatshirt at me, so all hopes of dresses were cast to one side.
After only just perfecting the fit on the Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt Pattern, I decided to make another. In the interest of showing off the two colours in the fabric (both sides) I decided to make a couple of changes. I wanted to be able to see both sides of the fabric without it looking too odd so I cut the Linden as normal but I drafted a pocket for the front so that the blue would show when I put my hands in it. To do this, I folded the fabric in half and drew the shape of this type of pocket. Then when I added the bottom band, I sandwiched the bottom of the pocket within the jumper.
I also added 3 inches to the whole pattern so the sweatshirt would be more slouchy in style and come under my bum.
I also extended the neckband by 5 inches and hemmed it so that it would fold over like a cowl neck and you would be able to see the blue reverse when it did. To make sure it was cowl style I added an inch to the neckband length also as the Linden neckband requires a lot of easing in and I wanted it to pull the raglan style sleeves in but not be so snug so that it wouldn’t drape. I think my hack was successful overall.
As the fabric is velour is produces lots of bits when cut, I recommend overlocking the edges straight away if you can. I overlocked every edge, which was time consuming but I found it made handling it much easier and less messy! Also, as the fabric is so thick, I found it easy to do the cuffs and band in stages, I would usually fold them and pin them all in one (three layers) but I used small seam allowances to do it in stages to make it easier on my machine and make sure that the fabric didn’t slip. This made for neater cuffs and bands I feel.
I would also recommend using a walking foot for your machine, it will be easier for using the fabric as it will help the pressure created by having a thicker fabric under the presser foot. The construction of the Linden is pretty easy overall but ensuring this fabric looked it’s absolute best in this pattern took a bit more thinking then usual. It was well worth it though!
I’m really pleased with my cosy jumper, it is exactly what I wanted to create as soon as I saw the fabric and I think the small hack I did has worked really well to show off the fabric. It's perfect for winter walks, feeding the ducks and I've been pairing it with coat leggings. If you are thinking of a super comfy hoodie, then this is definitely the way to go because the reverse colour would look great peeping on the inside of a hood too.
Thanks for reading,
Emma @ Emma and her Machine
Posted in Projects on Wednesday the 7th February 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Projects on Tuesday the 6th February 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
These Felt Sheet packs contain 10 sheets of felt, all with different patterns. The packs I used were red, blue and black. The black pack was the Soft Felt Fabric, very much like a normal fabric. The red and blue packs were the Hard Felt Fabric. These sheets are more like card, but still go easily through the sewing machine.
There are endless ways to use these felt sheets. I choose to make an advent calendar to fill with treats.
I used the packs of hard felt as they are sturdier than the soft sheets and better for holding lots of treats.
The soft felt sheets were perfect for making applique numbers for each advent calendar pocket. The appliqué numbers must be sewn onto each sheet before the pockets are made though. I ended up sewing nearly all my pockets together before realising I wanted to add numbers to the front! I did manage to make one numbered pocket though. I cut out a number one from a sheet of soft black and white felt and placed it about 3 inches from the top of a cut sheet of hard felt. I used embroidery thread in my machine and appliqued around the number.
If you prefer, numbers can be attached later using fabric glue. Appliqueing small numbers with lots of corners and curves can be quite fiddly!
Once any numbers or images have been appliqued, you can move onto sewing the pockets. I folded each sheet in half, wrong sides together, to make a ‘pocket’. I left a 1 inch strip of felt at the top of each pocket for attaching to binding later.
As the stitches are visible on the outside of each pocket, I chose one of the blanket stitches on my machine. The embroidery thread I used is from a Gutermann Sulky Machine Embroidery cotton set. It is a lovely multi coloured green and perfect for any stitches you have on show.
I made 24 pockets in total for my advent calendar.
Once all the pockets were sewn up, I laid them out in rows of 4 and sewed a strip of bias binding across the top of all 4 pockets.
I left about a 1 inch gap between each pocket.
I did this for all pockets until I had 6 sets of 4.
Once I had my 6 rows of 4, I sewed them together using bias binding on each side, making a large rectangle, again leaving around a 1 inch gap between each row. I also sewed a strip of bias binding down the middle. This extra strip helps to stop the calendar from ‘sagging’ when it’s hung up.
The advent calendar itself is quite large but hangs perfectly on the back of an interior door. I hung mine on over door coat hooks. Just make sure it is sturdy as the calendar can get quite heavy when filled with lots of treats!
I really enjoyed working with these felt packs. They are so easy to use and all you need is your imagination as they are so versatile. I highly recommend them.
Thanks for reading,
Posted in Product Reviews on Monday the 5th February 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
Pressing is so important when Sewing, in fact I’d say that it’s equally as important as the Sewing itself, and there is so much pressing involved when making a garment.
Our family iron is a huge steam iron, with a separate water tank, it’s a great iron and presses really well, but it’s so heavy and takes up so much space!
My large steam iron is way too big to use in my sewing room, and it’s too heavy to move about, so when I’m sewing something I have to keep going from one room to the other to sew the seams etc, so ok the room is only next door, but its a faff and is so annoying when you are in the sewing zone.
When Minerva Crafts provided the opportunity to review the Habico Mini Iron, I thought that it would be perfect for my dilemma, just look how tiny it is in comparison to my family iron!
So let me tell you a little bit about the features of this mini iron. It’s a steam iron, so it has a little water reservoir to hold the water, as its a little bit small and fiddly, it comes with a handy little jug to fill it.
You can switch the steam on and off via the steam button, so for the times when you don’t want to steam e.g when pressing interfacing, you can simply switch it off.
It has variable heat settings just like a standard iron, meaning that you can adjust the heat dependant upon the fabric that you are using.
It does have a two pin plug so you need to ensure that you buy an adapter if necessary ie if like me you are in the UK.
The first project that I made using the mini iron was a Liberty of London tana lawn dress, so I set it to the maximum heat setting. When I switched it on I was surprised at how quickly it was ready to use, literally seconds (a little light flashes until it’s hit the correct temperature) which is so much quicker than my large iron as this takes a couple of minutes to heat up (the longest 2 minutes ever when you just want to crack on with your sewing).
What I also noticed was how well balanced and sturdy the iron is, it very easily stands up and does not wobble about or fall over, which surprised me.
It’s very light weight and comfortable to use which is also great.
I used my large steam iron to press the fabric before cutting out the pattern, but then for the construction steps I only used the mini iron in order to test just how good it is.
The dress that I was sewing required the following construction pressing;
- pressing seams open
- setting seams
- applying iron on interfacing
- pressing facings to give neat edges
- pressing hems
- pressing tie belts
If I am honest, I was totally surprised at how well this mini iron performed, I was expecting it to be a little bit like the travel irons that I used years ago when going on holiday, but it was nothing like that at all, it “steamed” through all the tasks at hand with ease.
The heat level was good and the plate glided smoothly. It didn’t steam constantly, and there is not a steam jet button, but I found that if you lift the iron up vertically, and then back down horizontal it lets out a jet of steam, but also remember that it only has a small water tank so you must re-fill it quite regularly.
I also found that it was great when pressing small ares such as sleeve hems as due to its small size it fitted in all the nooks and crannies, which is really difficult to do with a big iron.
It worked really well for pressing the seams open as it gives you great control.
It also worked well when attaching iron on interfacing, I did put a pressing cloth on top (as you always should with interfacing) and it fused perfectly without wrinkling.
It was also great for pressing small areas such as the dress belt, again this was due to having good control over the area that was being pressed.
I did have to be careful to ensure that I unplugged the iron when I’d finished as it does not have an auto shut off feature, my large iron has this function so my brain does not automatically think to unplug after use.
I honestly cannot fault the mini iron, it pressed really well during the construction stages of my dress and was super handy to have at hand, ready to use in an instant, and even better it does not take up much space at all in my sewing room.
In my opinion, every sewer needs a Mini Iron in their lives!
It certainly helped me to sew up this dress like a dream.