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Archives: May 2019

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Taylor Dress in Scuba Crepe

Hello everybody, I am back with a new project and I am really excited to talk about it! It is love for the fabric and the pattern. I told you in one of the other posts that I love fabrics with leaf prints and of course this Scuba Crepe Fabric was calling me to take it and make something nice with it.

The pattern that I choose is the Taylor Dress from Designer Stitch. This is a pattern made for knit fabrics but the cool thing about it is that it has cup sizing. I don`t always get a good fit in patterns without bust shaping and sometimes a dart is required and I think having darts in a knit pattern is a great thing if that gives you a perfect fit and comfort. This pattern comes in cup sizes B, C, D and DD (E). I made size 3B and the only change was to raise the dart point a bit. I think this is an adjustment that is depending very much on the fabric. The more vertical stretch your fabric has the more chance you have that you will have to change the position of the darts.

The patterns call for stable knit fabrics and this scuba is perfect weight and drape. There are options for flounce at the hem and sleeve flounces and for this dress, I choose to add only the sleeves flounces. The pattern piece for this is a circle, there are no seams in the flounce so I cut them out with my rotary cutter to get a perfect edge and because this scuba doesn`t fray  I let the flounces unhemmed, I think it drapes much nicer.

Another cute detail is the keyhole in the front of the dress and I am really happy how this fabric worked as I was afraid that it will be too bulky. This is a medium weight scuba but is very soft so it worked perfectly for binding the keyhole and the neckline. There are two options for finishing binding the keyhole /neckline, either topstitching or stitching in the ditch. I think depending on the fabric you could use one or the other. I used stitching in the ditch here but for another version of this dress, made in a pique kind of fabric I topstitched. I kind of like this invisible way like in the picture above. 

The fabric was also very easy to sew, I used for most of the seams my serger and for the binding of the keyhole and neckline I used my sewing machine, also the hem is made on the sewing machine. 

I am very happy with this dress, I think it is a perfect match fabric/pattern. It is easy to wear with heels or flats and really perfect for everyday wear from bringing kids to school to going to the city. I love the colors in this fabric and the fact that is so soft and nice against my skin. To see exactly how the fabric "moves" I made a small action video.

Happy sewing and till next time!



Llama, Llama, Who's Got New Pyjamas?

Hello, Hello!!!  I'm back again, this time with my third post for the blog and a venture down a bit of a different path with my project from what I normally sew for myself!

This time I decided to go with a pair of flannel pyjamas.  I've actually been coveting the Piccadilly Pyjamas from Nina Lee since it was released and even more so, since Sarah of Sew Sarah Smith had blogged about her pair  on the blogger network last April, so of course it was a no brainer in pattern choice this time around! I adore the style - the mandarin collar and curved hems and the chance to use a fun fabric for the bias binding finishing make these a unique look from other pyjama patterns.

The Flannel Fabric is so soft and snuggly and I know I'm going to want to live in these pjs for the rest of winter until the nights start warming up - and they'll be great on those cooler evenings when we go camping in the summer too! I'm actually not sure if these technically are llamas or alpacas on the fabric - the way you can tell is all in the ears, unfortunately I can never remember what the rule is, so to me alpacas and llamas are pretty interchangeable. (Ok. I honestly do know that they are very much different animals, I'm just saying I classify them in my own mind as either/or when I see a photo or drawing of them).

I do have quite a fondness for llamas and alpacas.  Where I live, here in rural south eastern Manitoba, a lot of the farmers have an alpaca in amongst their cattle as a guard animal.  Just around the corner down the gravel road from me there's a mama and her youngster as a matter of fact.  As for llamas, well they won my heart back in 2007 when I went to Peru and they were helpfully "mowing" the grass at Machu Picchu.  With 3 ½ acres of yard, I’ve tried unsuccessfully, on more than one occasion to convince my husband that we need a llama mower too. Of course there's the whole fibre-y aspect of them too - I love to knit and spin with alpaca! So soft.  So warm.  

Anyways, I digress. Back to the pyjamas.  

These took me a while to sew - they're not complicated at all and the pattern instructions are very clear and well laid out.  It's just because hockey season was still in full swing and football spring training camp started up (Spring! Ha!! That's funny - up until recently we were still often dipping down to the -30C range with the windchill - rest assured spring football training is in the gymnasium of one of the local schools - I'm not making my eight and nine year olds run around outside in snow and cold - that only comes at the end of the actual season next fall. I jest... sort of...  LOL).  Between the little boys and their sports and life being busy in general I ended up having to sew these in very small chunks of time instead of all at once.  I was definitely impressed though and won't hesitate to sew a Nina Lee pattern again!

The fit was great, right off the bat (I only added 1 ½” of length to the top) - this is one of the few patterns that use a woven fabric that I've not had to do a broad back adjustment for.  There's no pulling or strain at all when I'm wearing the top and so they're very comfortable.  I did find the bottoms to be quite large on me, but that's no fault of the pattern.  I went by my waist measurement instead of my hip measurement - which was quite silly given the waist is elasticized and clearly would have still fit if I'd done the proper thing and gone by the smaller hip size. They're not large enough that I was willing to unpick them and cut them down and make a size smaller though (Let's not be crazy here!  They are pjs after all - and loose and baggy is not necessarily a bad thing when lounging or sleeping). I do want to make a short pair out of lightweight cotton for summer and will size down when I make that pair.

I did leave off the pockets on mine because I sewed them on no less than three times and managed to get them crooked every single time so I got mad at them.  They are currently in a time out on my sewing desk and once I'm not giving them the silent treatment any more I'll reassess and maybe try again. 

Taking photos also had to be done in small chunks of time rather than all at once...  I got all set up to take my photos - even thought I'd use my cup of tea I'd just made as a sort of prop in a  "Oh look how cute - she's in her jammies having her morning cuppa" kind of way.  I snapped one photo and thought I'd like a sip of my tea before continuing on. The next thing I knew I had missed my mouth and spilt my tea all down my front and my pyjamas were soaked. So it was off to the laundry room for them before I could continue.  Good heavens!  Did I mention I was a bit clumsy? Ha ha! Never a dull moment around here, I tell you!

Happy crafting until we meet again!

Sarah @ Prairie Girl Knits


The Papercut Patterns Guise Pants

I'm currently enjoying sewing trousers. While on the more difficult end of dressmaking (mainly to do with the fit) they are not only a satisfyingly in-depth garment to make but I find that trousers always get a lot of wear. I love more complicated projects which really allow you to think about the details and trousers are great for that too.  As I mentioned the one downside to sewing trousers are the stuggles with the fit but I think (or at least hope!) that I'm starting to come to grips with a few of the more basic fitting issues and how to solve them.

With all of this trouser making going on I've been on the hunt for some more trouser sewing patterns. When making tops and jumpers I now tend to hack pre-existing patterns or draft my own. However, I think that trousers are a lot harder to hack to a certain extent due to their shape and I'm wary of adding variations that are more complex to trouser patterns let alone begin to draft my own trouser block. One day I'd love to have a trouser pattern block that fits me but for now I think that investing in patterns that have already been beautifully designed is the way forward! 

This Suiting Fabric from Minerva seemed to me to be a great opportunity to pursue making trousers further and and an excuse to purchase a couple more trouser patterns. I really like the idea of suiting, a traditionally smarter fabric being worn everyday and wanted to create an everyday pair of trousers out of a smarter fabric. The colour of the fabric was more brown than I was expecting which to me meant that a more modern cut would be required so some pattern hacking was also in order.

I have a pair of ready-to-wear trousers that I love and wanted to try and re-create and thus embarked on a quest to find a matching pattern. The Papercut Patterns Guise Pants were the closest match I could find and one of the details that I really liked about the pattern were the welt pockets. I'd never sewn welt pockets before so was pleased to have the chance to learn how to sew them. They were a detail that I was certain I wanted the pattern to include as I really like the look of them, although I think that had I had the hindsight of knowing how difficult they would be to sew at the time, I wouldn't have been quite so keen to try out the technique!

The welt pockets were definitely hard to sew. Papercut Patterns have great instuctions as a whole which definitely helped but even so I ended up very confused in places! The majority of the YouTube tutorials I was able to find were for single rather than double welt pockets so the whole process involved quite a bit of guesswork so I'm very pleased at how they've turned out! Although uneven in places with the odd bit of puckering I think they worked quite well. One of the difficulties I had was how un-pressable the fabric was so I think that trying them again with a denim fabric would be much easier. 

I made very few adjustments to the pattern other than taking a wedge out of the centre back seam and taking in the waistband at the side seam. This is an adjustment that I make on pretty much all trousers and skirts now and means the waist is made smaller while keeping the same amount of fabric at the hips. They actually fit really well after this adjustment.There is a slight pulling of fabric around the hips but I think that may be partly to do with how hard the fabric was to press. The only other alteration I made was to make the trousers wider. I like the slim fit that the pattern has too but I felt that this fabric needed a slightly more modern cut. Also, cropped wide-legged trousers are one of my favourite things to wear in spring.

Overall this was definitely a project that I prefer much more now that it's finished than while I was making it but I do quite like the finished trousers despite the fabric not being initially what I imagined. I'd love to make this pattern again, this time with a more stable fabric for the welt pockets though!

Thanks for reading,

Anna @ Let's Get Sewing


Dandelion Jersey Pyjamas

Hello everyone, Izzy here from @topstitchrollhem with another product review and something a bit different for me today, I’ve made pyjamas! I have to say it felt quite strange to take pictures of myself in my nightwear but I’m so thrilled with the resulting PJs and excited to share them with you today.

I had three metres of this lovely teal dandelion-print Jersey Fabric to make my PJs, and I used every last scrap. It’s lovely and soft, quite lightweight and mostly cotton with a pretty good stretch, so it’s perfect for nightwear. The cotton content means it holds a press well which is always welcome. I just love the print, and I’m not sure how well it shows up in the photographs but the paler dandelion clocks are actually slightly sparkly silver. Because this jersey is quite lightweight, the edges curled quite a lot after cutting out, so they required handling with care – at one point it felt like every surface in my living room had a cut-out piece of this fabric on it as I was trying to keep it all flat!

I realised that despite having an enormous pattern stash, I didn’t have a single knit pyjama pattern, so I went with a mishmash from my existing pattern collection. The top is a Megan Nielsen Jarrah, I love the shoulder shape of this pattern and I have made it lots of times but never this view with the curved hem.

For the bottoms, I used the trouser part of McCalls 7777 which is a jumpsuit pattern I’ve made before. I thought the legs would be just the right width for pyjamas, and nicely high-waisted too. I left off the back darts and applied an elastic waistband as per the instructions in the Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pyjamas Pattern – zigzag some elastic (I used some random men’s underwear elastic from the terrifying tangle that is my elastic stash) to the top edge of the trousers, then fold inward twice so the elastic is covered and then stitch it down, stretching all the way around.

Pockets in pyjamas are essential in my opinion, so I attached one to the top front and one to the back of the bottoms. The pocket pattern pieces are from the Deer and Doe Melilot Shirt Pattern (I did say it was a real mishmash!) and I sewed them on with a zigzag stitch. It’s a bit wobbly in places and I probably should have starched them first as I struggled a bit with sewing stretchy jersey onto stretchy jersey without distorting the pattern pieces.

To tie in with the pocket stitching I used a zigzag stitch for topstitching throughout in black thread to pick up on the dandelion motifs. It’s a nice stretchy stitch so hopefully none of the stitches will pop – I’ve had this before, particularly on necklines, and it’s so sad to have your hard work come undone like that! The neckband went in easily, I basted it with a long stitch on my regular sewing machine first before attaching properly with my overlocker.

I confess, I don’t really like sewing proper drawstring ties as I always lose the will to live a bit when trying to feed the drawstring through the waistband channel (it’s my real sewing nemesis, does anyone else feel like this?!) so I made a faux drawstring tie by cutting a long, thin strip of the jersey then attaching it in the middle of the front on the bottoms, encouraging the raw edges to roll and then tying in a bow. Much easier!

I’m so thrilled with these pyjamas, they’re lovely and cosy without being too heavy and I have worn them a lot since making them. I want to make some more pairs as the rest of my nightwear feels a bit shabby in comparison! Once I’d worked out which bits of which patterns I wanted to use, the pyjamas came together very quickly and easily on the overlocker, it was such a lovely relaxing sew. I can see this fabric being great for tshirts, dresses and children’s wear, too.

Thanks very much for reading,

Izzy @topstitchrollhem


Alex Shirt Dress

Hi everyone. Becky here from Notes from the Sewing Room.

This month I was asked to review a light-weight Viscose Challis Fabric from Minerva.

I was immediately drawn to the print of this fabric as I’m a big fan of polka dots and thought this work perfectly as a shirt dress.

What Did I Make?

I was sent three metres of this fabric and used it to make a Sew Over It Alex Shirt Dress. This project is from the Sew Over City Break e-book. I purchased this book a while ago and I am slowly trying to make my way though each of the sewing patterns.

The e-book is suitable for sewers of all levels as there are a range of things to make including a jersey top and dress, jeans and jacket as well as the pattern I used.

I’ve wanted to make a shirt dress for ages but I kept putting this off due to the time involved. However, I really want to try out new types of projects this year and would like more practice sewing collars so thought the Alex Shirt Dress would work well.

As dresses go, it is quite a simple dress that is loose fitting so you don’t need to worry too much about the sizing. A few people had mentioned to me that this pattern was much looser than they expected when they made it, so I decided to make a fabric belt to pull in my dress at the waist.

If you fancy making this project, I would recommend using a fabric that has a fair amount of drape to it otherwise the dress could look stiff rather than soft and floaty.

The Fabric

The fabric was great to sew and has a wonderful drape. I did find that it moved around quite a lot on the sewing machine so I had to take my time, especially when sewing the more detailed areas of this project like the button band and the collar.

I think this fabric would be perfect for making shirts, summer skirts or dresses. I would love to buy some more of this in red perhaps, although I’m not sure if this is available at the moment.

I always wash my fabric before sewing with it and found that the viscose washed and dried well, as well as not fraying too much in the making process.

I finished all my seams with my overlocker and the fabric didn’t form any pulls when I did this. I must say I was holding my breath when I put the first section through the overlocker as I did think it may form a pull or two but was pleasantly surprised when it didn’t.

Did I Enjoy This Project?

Yes, I am a big fan of Sew Over It projects and I think this will be great to wear over the summer with sandals as well as into the cooler months with tights for work.

I particularly enjoyed matching my buttons to the fabric. I found some lovely white heart buttons in my local haberdashery shop and think these look great on the front of my dress.

If you haven’t got a copy of the Sew Over City Break e-book yet, I would recommend it as there are a few different patterns included with each pushing you to try different skills.

Keep up-to-date with my makes

You can see my latest makes on my new You Tube channel, my blog, or by visiting my Instagram page.

Hope you enjoyed my review. Until next time, happy sewing.  


McCalls 7894 in Black Poly Crepe

The black dress? Is it a wardrobe staple? I never thought it was, or at least, I never much aimed at having too many black pieces myself. However, as I came to sew more and more of my own clothes I began to build a wardrobe made of a variety of homemade garments. I value options when it comes to the colors, prints, and texture of my clothes. So eventually, I decided yes, a black dress was now welcome in my closet!

Perhaps, I shouldn’t have waited so long because now I’m delighted by this new addition—a long black dress with chiffon sleeves. I might even go so far as to call it an evening gown.

My plan for this project began when Minerva offered me the chance to select one of their new crepe fabrics. I thought—this is the time to make a new black dress!

Although spring patterns were already on my mind, I knew this John Kaldor Sateen Fabric would lend itself well to many styles. In particular, I’d been thinking about trying McCalls new M7894, a pattern with multiple skirt and sleeve options, a deep V neck line, a high waist and gathering (instead of darts) at the bust. The skirt design is especially pleasant. It is made up of multiple curved pieces which offer the option to use contrasting fabric.

For my project, I chose a long skirt and long sleeve option. I made a usual size 16. I knew the black poly crepe, which is slightly matte, was a great drape for the body of the dress. Still, I wanted to add a few personal touches. For example, to add some visual interest, I used a transparent chiffon for the sleeves. Then, to elevate the design further, I also added cuffs to the sleeves.

My adjustments consisted of finding the right placement for the faux wrap cross over at the center bodice and changing the shoulder slope to better fit the deep V neckline. The dress is partially lined at the bodice. In hindsight, I’d make this dress fully lined next time. I think the elegant design is worth the extra time and fabric required to produce a fully lined dress.

This pattern is labelled as 'Easy' however I’d say that it is maybe a little more intermediate for some sewers. There is nothing too tricky about putting this dress together, nor are there too many pieces to cut out. But, there is a side zipper and a lined bodice, which both require some concentration. Of course, these steps are nothing to fret about!

Otherwise, sewing the curved pieces of the skirt requires some post sewing trimming. Since these pieces are cut on the bias, they may stretch while sewing, mine did. So, after the dress was sewn, I let the dress hang for a day and balanced the hem at the end. Thankfully I had a friend to help me with this step!

Overall I’m thrilled with the dress outcome. This was a fun project, different from my usual ones yet it produced a garment that has its place in my handmade wardrobe!

Thanks for reading,

Jess @ Jess Sews Clothes


Modal Ponte Coco Dress

Hi everyone! I hope this will give you all some great ideas for things to make. I usually shy away from buying Ponte roma online as I often discover it is shiny and stiff when it arrives. This Modal Ponte Fabric is totally different. It isn’t a thick Ponte which means it has a beautiful flowing quality but it is thick enough for a dress or trousers and warm enough for winter and spring. The pattern has a dark navy blue background with brown leaves and flowers, which actually look golden. The reverse of the fabric is black.

The softness of the fabric is impossible to photograph but can be demonstrated by Bella preferring to lie on the fabric rather than her bed!

I decided that the fabric would suit one of my favourite and most made patterns, the very popular Tilly and the buttons Coco dress. It is a quick and easy make suitable for beginner (and advanced) sewists, it took me an afternoon from cutting out to finishing. If you haven’t made this pattern yet then definitely put it on your sewing list! There are short and long sleeved versions, two neckline options and a top. I decided to make the long sleeved funnel neck dress, although I omitted the cuffs and didn’t make the pockets – the pattern pockets are too tiny to be of any use and I think they wouldn’t have worked with the look of this dress. I did consider putting inseam pockets in but I was worried they would create an odd silhouette (I don’t need any extra bulk around my hips!). I made a tilly size 7 and squeezed the dress out of 2m of fabric. The construction was a breeze as the fabric is so stable, I had no problems cutting out or sewing.

Tilly suggests using ribbon to stabilise the shoulders of the dress to prevent them pulling out of shape. You can also use clear elastic but I prefer ribbon as it's less expensive and soooooo much prettier!

The Coco is easy to sew and the instructions are great, I have made it in both stretchy jersey for summer and super thick ponte for deep winter. Each fabric creates its own look for the dress, this ponte is in-between the two extremes so it is not clingy like some thinner jerseys but not too ridged like some of the thick ponte’s. I think it creates a great easy to wear garment. I am so pleased with the finished dress it is perfect for those cooler spring days (and big Easter lunches!). I think it is smart enough to wear out to a nice family lunch or daytime gathering with friends. It is also comfy enough to wear for long spring walks in the sunshine, or just to chill out at home sewing. What better place to photograph a leaf print fabric than some ancient woodland!


Burgundy Floral Flared Skirt

Hi Minerva crafters, I'm Aida from idaaidasewing blog and I'm back on the Minerva Crafts Blog with a lovely skirt. The truth is that I rarely use patterns to make my skirts as I prefer to draft them myself. Although it doesn't come naturally to me to draft patterns, I like taking the time to do it. Anyway, this time is an exception as I wanted a quick make and didn't have the time to draft what I had in mind.

To start with let's talk a bit about the fabric. I was sent by Minerva this gorgeous Suiting Fabric, I really love how these beautiful flowers look over the burgundy background and although I usually prefer natural fibers I could not resist this print despite the fact that it is a synthetic fabric. It also has some stretch but that was not of any use for the project I used it for.

Now, about the pattern, what I had in mind was a flared skirt with a wide yoke as I think this kind of skirt looks flattering on me. So I took a look at my pattern stash and I was happy to find in one of the Burda Style Magazines pretty much what I wanted. It's the pattern no 0005 from the Burda Classics issue 01/2013. The design is really simple, just a half circle skirt with an extra wide yoke, it is wider than what I was looking for but I thought why not try it as it is. So I made no modifications to the pattern to make a less wide yoke although it would have been easy to do it. This pattern is so basic that I actually felt a bit stupid that I traced a pattern from the magazine to do it, anyway, what I liked about this pattern is that it is cut on the bias and that is what gives the extra flair and drape to this skirt. The downside is that it requires a lot of fabric and actually, my initial plan was to cut it on the straight grain to save fabric as I wanted to make a matching jacket with the remaining fabric. In the end I decided to do what the pattern says and postpone my plans for a matchy matchy set for another time, I'm glad I did it as I love the drape of the skirt and I wouldn't have had this result if I had cut it on the straight grain.

Apart from that this pattern has nothing else to mention and the construction is so easy, you attach the yokes to the front and back and then you sew the side seams, there is no back seam so the zipper is attached on the side. I hemmed it using Hug Snug binding, I find this method of binding to be great for curved hems as the bias binding is easy to be manipulated around the curves and the Hug Snug binding is so light that it adds no bulk or weight to the hem.

Thank you for reading!

Take care,

Aida @ idaaidasewing


Vogue V8825 – Wrap Dress

Hi, hello! I’m super pleased to be joining the wonderful bunch of Minerva Makers and as this is my first post, I’ll introduce myself…

I’m Jo (AKA #Daphne or #NorfolkDaphne) and I own a gallery business with my artist husband on the beautiful North Norfolk Coast. I’ve always loved great design and use of colour and pattern but never had any interest in sewing until I watched the Sewing Bee in 2014 and thought ‘I fancy doing that!’. So I had three lessons locally, made two skirts, learnt all the basics… and I was addicted!

Since then I’ve sewn all sorts in woven and jersey fabrics, from dresses, tops and skirts, to jackets, coats and active-wear; I also sew all of hubby’s shirts for him – I’ve even made him a flat cap!

I love being able to make clothes that work for my hourglass shape, as I find it difficult to get a good fit on the high street. I love the whole process, from matching a pattern to fabric, sewing and problem-solving as I go along and of course there’s nothing quite like that sense of achievement when you sew that last stitch. Even now I still surprise myself every time I finish making something.

I started blogging a while ago and enjoy sharing makes, as well as it being a useful reminder of what I made when, along with any alterations. My biggest achievement is making it to the top five of this year’s Dressmaker of the Year!

So anyway, onto the reason I’m here… I was very excited to receive my first Makers Team email with a fabulous choice of fabrics and this lovely viscose jersey caught my eye. I’d had the Vogue 8825 pattern in my stash for a while and it immediately sprung to mind as perfect for the fabric.

The dress – view B - calls for 2¾m of 60” fabric and it used nearly all of it. The size guide puts me into a 14 but knowing how Big Four patterns tend to have a lot of ease (too much, in my opinion!), I wanted to check this. There aren’t any finished measurements given, so I measured the pieces separately, deducted seams and darts and concluded that a size 12, graded to a 10 at the waist should fit nicely.

Being a Viscose Jersey this fabric’s drapey but it doesn’t curl under and it behaved itself beautifully; the quality is fantastic. My only slight niggle – this applies to all printed jersey – is that it’s white on the reverse, so anywhere it stretches can look a bit faded and the seams can turn white if they’re pressed too much, so I made sure to bear this in mind when I was choosing what size to make, so that it was slightly on the loose side, rather than pulling too tight.

The bodice came together really well and I love the pleat detail at the waist. The back of the bodice and skirt has darts and there’s a centre back seam, which I find useful for adjusting for my swayback but didn’t need to on this one.

The pattern is classed as Very Easy and it is pretty straightforward but I wouldn’t recommend it for beginner sewists, or someone who hasn’t sewn with jersey before, as there are parts that could be tricky. For instance, where the front, back, and sleeve meet on the shoulder it creates a triangle which takes some accurate maneuvering. If you get it wrong you’ll either end up with unsightly puckers, or a hole!

I sewed the dress mostly on my overlocker but did some parts – especially where I had to be careful - on my sewing machine with a stretch stitch. For the hems I used a twin needle.

Despite loving bishop sleeves I decided against them, as I felt they’d look too heavy with this busy fabric. So I slimmed them down and shortened them – I love how elbow length sleeves draw attention to the waist and also they’re more suitable for the spring and early summer.

The only other slight change I made was to overlap the two front bodice pieces more than suggested, as I wanted to make sure I had good bust coverage with no gaping and it’s worked a treat.

Turns out I could’ve got away with a 10 at the bust and 8 at the waist and I plan to size down next time I make this pattern. That said, I certainly don’t think this one looks or feels too big – especially because of the fabulous wrap belt that cinches everything in at the waist.

I wore it casually for a trip on the Norfolk Broads recently, with leggings, ankle boots and a denim jacket but it would also look fab dressed up with killer heels and a leather jacket for a night out. Very Versatile Vogue!

Thank you to Minerva for providing the fabric for this make – I hope you like what I’ve done with it and I hope to be back here again soon.

PS if you’re wondering where the name Daphne came from, it was my nannie’s name. Sadly she passed away before I learned to sew and knit but she was a keen knitter and I know she’d be proud of me. When I bought my mannequin I, tongue-in-cheek, named her Daphne so she’d be watching over me… and it kinda stuck!

Norfolk Daphne



The Real Deal Super Stretch Jeans & The Clovelly Cap

I've been meaning to make myself another pair of jeans, so when the opportunity arose to try out this Super Stretch Denim Fabric, I couldn't resist. First impressions are that this is thinner than 'normal' denim, but is still plenty thick enough for some lightweight jeans. It's made from a blend of cotton, nylon and elastane which has a whopping 30% stretch. The Winter Wear Designs Real Deal Jeans pattern calls for denim with 10% to 20% stretch, and I was advised I could go down a size with this amount of stretch.

One thing to be aware of is that unlike most other stretchy fabric, the stretch on this denim runs along the cut length, rather than from selvedge to selvedge. I was generously sent a metre and a half cut, which meant it was approximately square; for me it didn't matter that the stretch was running vertically, but if you have a different cut length, it's one to just bear in mind. This does mean that the pattern will run sideways to what you expect, but the pattern is quite abstract anyway, so that's not really much of a disadvantage.

I will admit I don't normally prewash my fabric, but denim is my sole exception to that rule. I was anticipating the fabric shrinking a little, which it did – it lost 6cm in width and length after a 40C wash and line drying. Asking online, a lot of people recommend prewashing denim fabric five times before sewing... but for me, once was my limit as I wanted to get on and start making!

I wasn't too sure what needle would be best to use – should it be stretch, or denim? After a practise run on some offcuts, I decided to use my thinnest denim needle, as that would enable the needle to pass through several layers of fabric without too much hassle. I picked Gutermann Sew All #68, which almost matched the blue of the denim, for the seams and bobbin. But rather than specific topstitching thread, I used off-white Guttermann Sew All thread #111 as the needle thread for topstitching. In total, I used three reels of the blue thread, and one off-white.

The denim is really easy to cut, but as with all denim, it does like to fray! Because of the stretchiness of the fabric, I've stuck with stitch #4 – a triple stretch straight stitch, for the seams and topstitching. Using that stitch for the topstitching with regular thread, means I can keep using the denim needle, which comes in handy for those bulks seam intersections, and also comes out a bit cheaper than buying specific topstitching thread.

All the inside seams are finished with a mock-overlock stitch. I have a couple of options on my machine, so I used stitch #12 for the leg seams, and stitch #10 for the pocket edges. You could of course use an overlocker for those seam finishes, which would make the insides even neater.

The fabric holds a crease surprisingly well – I stuck with using the iron on a maximum of the 2 spot setting because of the nylon content, and the pocket creases stayed in place perfectly. I didn't attempt any decorative stitching on the pockets, but with a pattern this busy, I don't really think you would need to.

Because of the amount of stretch in the denim, I've chosen to use the same fabric for the pocket bags, rather than a contrast non-stretch fabric. I felt this would help to allow the pockets to stretch with the jeans. Although I could have gone down a size when making these, I'm not a fan of 'clingy' jeans, so I stuck with my normal sizing.

The waistband has ended up a little wavy, which I think was down to the fabric stretching a little as I was sewing the waistband to the waistband lining. Using a walking foot would probably help to lessen the stretching, as would lowering the foot's pressure. If I made another pair in this fabric, I might also be inclined to add in some non-stretched elastic inside the waistband, starting at the front belt loop, reaching round the back, and stopping at the front belt loop on the other side. I've done this on some previous trousers from the same pattern, and while it won't make the waistband any tighter (as I didn't stretch the elastic while sewing), I found this helped to stop the waistband from stretching too much.

Alternatively, making the jeans (or at least the waistband) a size smaller may also resolve that problem for future makes, as the waistband would need to stretch more to fit properly in the first place!

Despite having a sewing machine with a one-step buttonhole option, I have a love-hate relationship with buttonholes. Sometimes I can get them working perfectly, other times they end up being a complete disaster! I used buttonhole stitch #21 which has a curve to one end, although a straight buttonhole would still be perfectly workable. I made a few practise buttonholes on some offcuts, just to check my settings before I started. The other advantage of using regular thread instead of topstitching thread for my topstitching, is that I could use the same thread for the buttonhole without any worry of the stitches being too bulky for the foot.

I also haven't had a particularly high success rate with attaching jeans buttons, but for this fabric I felt a jeans button would be too heavy anyway. Rummaging through my Mum's button tin, I came across this blue camouflage button which looks like it could've been made for these jeans.

A simple double-turned hem later, and my jeans are finished!

I really love the finished look of these jeans. They're really comfy to wear, and the light colour is ideal for a new Spring outfit. The denim even matched my trainers! Now all I need to do is make a new t-shirt to complete the outfit.

I had some denim left over after making these jeans, so I thought I'd put it to good use and make something else. But what? I had less than half a metre remaining, so that was going to restrict what I could make. As luck would have it, Jamie Kemp had recently released the Clovelly Cap pattern, and I had enough fabric to make one from the denim!

The Clovelly Cap is designed for a non-stretch fabric, so to counteract the 30% stretch of the denim, I cut the outer pieces with the stretch running horizontally, and the lining pieces from the same fabric, but with the stretch running vertically. I'm confident that with the outer and lining fabric being topstitched along the seam lines, the cap will be stable without any risk of stretching.

Rather than using the white thread for all the topstitching, I stitched one line on each segment in blue, and the line on the other side of each seam in white, just for a bit of variety. It also helped to cover any mistakes where my topstitching might not have been overly accurate!

My only deviation from the pattern was with the brim stiffener. The only thing I had to hand was a piece of clear vinyl, so I cut two layers of that and stitched them together around the edge, to hold them inside the brim. Again I stuck with the thinnest denim needle, which worked surprisingly well on the bulky seams while I was working on the brim topstitching.

All I needed to add in was a self-covered button on the top of the cap, but I didn't have a self-covered button kit to hand (and was impatient to get on and wear the cap while the sunny weather lasted!), so I cheated. I cut a circle of denim which was slightly bigger than the button itself and mock-overlocked the raw edge. Then I ran a basting stitch around the circle, tightened the threads to gather the denim around the button, and knotted the threads underneath. That gives the illusion of a perfect self-covered button without needing to have a kit to hand. Of course it may not be quite as durable as a 'proper' self-covered button, but I think it should work fine.

Thanks for reading, and I hope that's given you some inspiration for diving in to sewing with this super stretchy denim! 

Paddy @ Dragon's Flame Designs

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