Coat and Dragon

Yes, I did say dragon. I have been sewing all week – and usually I would have to say I can’t show you anything as it has all been for clients. But I just had to show you this so I asked especially for permission. Thank you Mrs N!

Welsh Dragon dress

Welsh Dragon dress

Behold Bessie modelling the ‘Welsh Dragon Dress’. It was self drafted – a very simple t-shirt shape with no darts. This was made for my client as a gift for her friend who is a big Welsh rugby supporter. I think we might spot her in the crowd wearing this! I really enjoyed doing something a bit different – and although the dragon was time consuming to applique onto the dress (front and back) I quite enjoyed it once I had got into the swing. Good fun to do. I hope the Welsh team play particularly well for her.

I managed to trace the coat pattern from the Patrones magazine on Sunday as I hoped, and trimmed the paper pattern pieces in my half hour on Monday. I cut the fabric yesterday – the pattern fitted but only just! The photograph shows what was left. There isn’t a good sized piece left at all. I kept what there was so that I can test interlinings before doing the work to the coat pieces. I have decided I don’t want to make this a ‘project’ so I wont be using canvas and pad stitching. A bit of speed tailoring needed this time.

Patrones November Coat

Not much left!

I hope to make a start sewing this over the weekend so maybe I will have something to show you in a couple of days.

There is still time to leave a comment to add your name to the ‘Pattern Pyramid’ draw so why not join in!


Artist/Fisherman’s Smock

I am still hollygagging about trying to decide what I really want to make for myself in my daily half hours. I know I want it to be autumnal. I think it will probably be a jacket. I quite like the idea of a cape – but don’t want to end up looking like Batman. Oh dear – decisions, decisions.

Artists smock

Artists smock

Whilst I was in a mental muddle I had a job from a client to make  a copy of an artists smock. I loved how useful and easy it was, so I made another for me. The original was made in a cotton twill but I decided to make this in my cotton baby cord in a lovely chocolate brown. I suspect that I am going to use this quite a lot as the weather starts to cool.

The pattern was very easy to make and I have included my workings here for you.  I have not allowed for any seams or hems, or the turning on the top of the pockets so don’t forget to add that onto your pattern. I overlocked all the pieces before I made this up as it was much easier than trying to catch all the edges of the gussets! (Call me  lazy if you want).

Artists smock

Neckline/collar detail


I sewed the pockets and attached them to the front piece, then sewed the shoulder seams , then worked the neckline by sewing the collar piece into a loop and then to the neck edge (collar seam to the CB), then turning it in and sewing inside to secure it (I overlocked the raw edge and left it out but you could make a turn and ‘stitch in the ditch’ from outside). Stitching the top edge makes it look a bit crisper if you want to do that.

Centre the top of the sleeves over the shoulder seam and sew in place – leave the seam allowance free to enable you to insert the underarm gusset more easily. Sew the gusset into place – I used the marks on the main body/sleeves to guide me and sewed so that I could see the point I needed to stitch up to. When you have all four gusset seams completed  sew the sleeve seam, and then the body seam.

All you need to do now is to turn up a hem on both sleeve and body. Done!

In addition to this top the management asked me to knit more little hats for the Innocent Smoothie fundraiser for this year. Everyone in his office is knitting some and he didn’t want not to contribute. I think I may teach him to knit before next year! If you want to join in with this campaign check out their website. They are really easy to knit and raise money for Age UK.

My Innocent Hats

My Innocent Hats for 2012

Maybe I will work out what I really want to make soon – it would be nice to have something new that actually suited the season!

P.S. Bessie will be wearing the top for a little while. She is a bit upset at being found ‘naked’ by a client who remarked ‘That’s a big girl!’. I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was ‘me’ (I wonder if she has worked it out yet?). The diet starts …….whenever the chocolate runs out.

SAM 2 – Februarys shirt

OK. I know I am a few days late with this shirt – but like I said in my last post I was going away for a few days. Want to see my cabin?

Forest Holiday

Breakfast visitor

Forest Holidays Cabin

My little bit of heaven

Well  it was mine – but only for the week. It is in the lovely Forest of Dean and really belonged to Forest Holidays. We had a very reviving few days of unseasonably warm weather – and even had guests for breakfast on occasion!Joking apart – we had a great time, did lots of walking, and have come home refreshed and ready to get on again. So…..SAM 2 - February

SAM 2 - February

Bessie modeling

SAM 2 - February

Rolled sleeve detail

…I finished Februarys shirt. When I left the sleeves had to made and set into the body, and the buttons and buttonholes had to be made.The fabric is a very

SAM 2 - February

Rear view

stretchy cotton mix (from stash – I can’t remember where it came from) which caused a few problems with setting in the sleeves without it creating little tucks. After a bit of unpicking and careful re-sewing it looks fine. I wanted the buttons to be virtually invisible – the fabric does enough on its own – so I used very basic small white shirt buttons and I am very happy.

The pattern was basically Patrones 311 style 6 –  but as I detailed in my last post I made a few adjustments to make it more wearable in the wonderful UK summers. As I wasn’t able to get a decent photograph on me (and the management is back to work) I had to rely on Bessie to model for me.

I am very happy with this shirt(dress) and I will  probably wear it with leggings/footless tights unless it is really hot (and I get the fake tan evenly on my gleaming winter white legs). I will almost certainly make it again and may just fiddle the pattern to make this little beauty.

RLauren ruffled shirt dress

Fabulous Ralph Lauren shsirtdress

 It wont be too difficult to make the necessary adjustments to give this pattern – and I can steal the ruffles from style 26 to try them out! February is a winner. Lets see what I make of March.

Bessies Words of Wisdom

Bessie:  So Kim, you should finish the jacket today?

Kim: I hope so Bessie – there’s not too much left to do.

Bessie: What exactly is left to do?

Kim: Sew on the collar and cuffs, facings, um, topstitching, buttonholes and buttons!

Bessie: All to be done in an hour – impressive.

Kim: Oh! I didn’t realise there was so much!

Bessie: Optimism is wonderful but a bit of reality wouldn’t hurt Kim.

Kim: OK Bess.

P.S. The jacket is almost done. Just topstitching,buttons and buttonholes. May be finished tomorrow. I hope.

How many?

Bessie:  How many months are there in a year Kim?

Kim: 12 Bessie, everyone knows that!

Bessie (Sighs): Really Kim? And how many jackets have you made for your JAM this year?

Kim: Hurrah! 2 now! OH! Now I see what you mean…….

Bessie: Yes Kim. 10 left. Not 8. 10.   

Kim:  !

Bessie:  Better get a move on then.

Patrones Top

I have had a busy weekend finishing off the details of my newly decorated lounge (re-hanging pictures etc). Whilst that was needed I really wanted to do some sewing.

I traced the patterns I wanted to use during last week so was all ready to cut out and sew three garments. I cut 2 out last night (supposedly watching TV but I missed more than I saw) so I was ready to sew today. I started with a top from Patrones 302 (number 32 from the plus size section). Whilst I am a 46 in trousers/skirts I always have to make a FBA in any tops/dresses I make so given the unstructured shape of this top I was happy just to try the size 50.

I had been given this polyester crepe fabric by a friend and thought it would look good in this unstructured style. It was very easy to sew and I know that it is very easy care so should be a useful addition to my wardrobe.

I really like the sleeve detail so I will definitely be making this top again. The seam gaps for putting the rouleaux belt through are possibly a bit too low for me so I will re-mark the gap to a higher position (making the gathering look a little more ’empire line’).

The belt was a very long rouleaux which looked as though it might be a pain to turn through but I used a turner that looks like a large needle with a lump on the end and had no trouble at all. I always make my loops with a ‘funnel’ to the top and two seams stitched close together which help to make the tube more stable.

It looks just fine on Bessie and when I have someone around to take photographs I will get some on me.I have a pair of ‘Classic Jeans’ from another Patrones issue cut out to start tomorrow so I hope to have more to show you soon.

News from the Trenches

Life seems to have got in the way of this project. It’s not that I haven’t been sewing – just not for me (again). Progress has been very slow although I have now tried the body on and am fairly happy with the fit.It looks better on me than Bessie. I have used fine sheer fuzing to interline the cotton – it is giving just enough support as I didn’t want to have a ‘stiff’ coat. 

 I have used a technique from an old issue of ‘Threads’ magazine. In issue 75 there was an article on ‘No Bulk Envelope Welts’. I remembered thinking it looked like a good idea but had never got round to putting it in a garment (although I had sampled it). As you can see it relies on mitres to move the seam away from the sides of the flap so there is much less bulk under the needle when you sew the pockets to the garment. I have done things in slightly the wrong order so that I could get the placement where I wanted which means that I am going to have to work the pockets with the garment almost together.

I would have had to make a major ‘full bust adjustment’ in any commercial pattern but since this pattern was cut from my own jacket block/sloper (Made from the instructions in the Winifred Aldrich pattern Cutting for Womenswear book) I just had to make the darts I needed look reasonably attractive. I divided the volume between three darts in the side/front seam which I am fairly happy with. All the seams are to be topstitched (in classic denim fashion) so I stitched the darts down too.

The other slight irritation at the moment is that I found a couple of buttons in my stock that were just perfect. Except there aren’t enough for this garment. I have searched locally and not found anything I am as happy with so I am going to have to go to Birmingham where the choice is larger. It is my plan to send the belts to Harlequin to have the eyelets put in – they do such a good job I don’t think it’s worth me messing up the work I have put in trying to do them myself. If I can’t find suitable buttons I may have them do edged covered buttons which will look fine.

I am hoping to find some time tomorrow to continue this. Perhaps I was a bit optimistic to think I could finish this in February! (And the curtains…… don’t ask.)

P.S.  Me-Made March is going well but it has highlighted how many ‘tops’ I make rather than skirts/trousers. Will have to address that.

May I introduce Bessie?


Click to enlarge

I am very proud of my new ‘Lady Valet’ dressform – ‘Bessie’- who will no doubt be of great help in assisting me in achieving correct fit and is also very patient (and not at all bashful) about being dressed and photographed in order to show you what I have been making.

This self drafted sleeveless blouse is the first of the garments for my SWAP 2011 challenge.Whilst not a difficult (or exciting) project it will help get things underway – I was spending too much time planning and not enough time doing.The fabric is a polyester crepe which was given to me by my good friend Pamela at Material Matters which was easy to sew and I know from experience is very easy care. I used french seams throughout – not a difficult process but one I am rarely asked to use by clients so I felt a little rusty. Glad to say they have no ‘whiskers’ showing on the right side of the garment. You can see by the next picture why it had to be a sleeveless blouse. I love being able to use all the fabric!

Just bits!


P.S. Still struggling with the tickers. Have got them prepared but cant get them onto blog.Any ideas out there?