Saturday, 7 April 2018

Kinder cardigan - Wendy Ward


I am hear today to talk about a cardigan I made at the beginning of the year just before the release of Wendy Wards new book 'A beginners guide to sewing with knitted fabrics'. I was contacted by the publishing company and supplied with the book and fabric in return for a review, but it all got delayed due to Wendy's book selling so fast that they needed to restock. I was super happy to be able to have a sneak peek and was instantly drawn to the kinder cardigan with its kimono-esque vibe.


I was able to choose some fabric from the Minerva crafts website and could not resist the atelier brunette sweater fabric they had available. Unfortunately I can no longer find it on their website, but they do have this one. I have seen this branded sweater fabric sewn up quite a lot and was intrigued. I can report that it is amazingly soft!

The pattern I chose was a very easy sew and the book walks you through all the steps perfectly. I sewed it all up on my sewing machine as instructed.

The book itself is very much aimed at sewing on a standard sewing machine and explains that there is no need for an overlocker if you do not wish to make the investment. I personally would have found this extremely helpful when I was starting out in sewing with knit fabrics as it is easy to be put off. I remember years and years and years ago trying to sew stretch fabric and it getting all warped through the sewing machine. I have had an overlocker for almost 20 years, so am very lucky and didn't really need to consider how my sewing machine would cope with sewing seams, but I really love the quality of a standard machine sewn seam.



There are some pretty great patterns included for a boxy t-shirt, vest top and wide legged trousers as well as suggestions for how to customise the patterns.

I think that this is such great value for money if you would like a bit of hand holding when it comes to sewing with knits.

I must admit I have struggled to photograph my finished garment as this is definitely more lounge wear for me, but then I didn't want to pair it with my raggedy old pyjamas, so here is what it looks like on with my jeans. Pretty smart! It is so snuggly, I only wish I had made it ginormous so I could wear it as a dressing gown.



I hope this is a helpful review to you and please check out all the other wonderful makers taking part in this tour! xxx

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Printing something out of nothing

Here's a challenge. Use your scraps to give you print confidence!


Two of my most liked pattern sample garments are the ones I printed using a very simple stencilling technique. It is bold and graphic, but so easy to do so I thought I would give a little tutorial today.


All you really need is a stencil, some ink and a sponge. I have a very good supply of some architects drafting sheets, which has a plastic coating and is perfect for stencils, but you could make use of plastic packaging. Be resourceful ;-) My Dad rescued my supply from a skip, so I am one lucky lady! The ink I used is Permaset Aqua screen printing ink from here. It is solvent free, so much kinder to the environment. The scrap of denim is actually a hemmed piece I cut off the bottom of some super long sleeves I was sewing and destined for the recycling bag.

The stencil was simply cut with a scalpel and a cutting mat. It's fun to work with just very simple shapes and design with little pressure to create an accurate repeat.


 With some paper underneath the fabric to protect the table, I just weighed down the stencil and got dabbing with my inked sponge.



Go wild and cover your piece.


To finish off, heat set the print once it has cured or dried properly. I usually do this by throwing my printed fabric in the tumble dryer for a hot spin, but you can use an iron also.

My printed scrap was begging to be made into a pencil case and this bright coral zip looked brilliant against the fabric.


A really good use of some pieces which were destined to be destroyed.




The piece I printed the other day with my carved block got made into a drawstring bag. Perfect to use as a project bag or re-usable gift wrapping.



 So hopefully this demonstrates that you can really enjoy the process by thinking really small and using pieces of fabric that would not otherwise seem useful!

M x

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Printing my stash


Hello and happy new year! A new year feels like a chance to start a fresh. I do not want to make any resolutions because I never stick to them, but I do want to make more of my fabric stash. Fabric bans do not work for me, so I'm going to explore the idea of improving what I have by experimenting with print. If you have followed me for a while then you may already know that I love to play with printing at home. I want to continue doing that and also be more playful to push myself further. I am not sure exactly where this is going to take me, but I thought that I could share my experiments and perhaps inspire some of you to do the same. I have loads of ideas buzzing around, so am trying not to get ahead of myself, but the distraction should at least prevent me from looking at shiny new fabric....

I gently eased myself into the idea by carving a simple block with a repeating geometric design. For reference the block is this softcut. It is my first time using it and I like the smooth texture of the block and how easy it is to carve with no crumbling. I also road tested my recently purchased carving tools. I love that they come with a sharpening block.


I inked the block by rolling some screen printing ink on. It's quite a fluid and slippery ink which is why it's so patchy, but I want to try lots of different things. It created quite a lovely distressed print. My main aim is to make some of my fabric more usable and more attractive to me so I can actually sew them up into something I'm happy with. If you want to play along with me then that would be fab and don't worry about producing enough yardage for a garment. Even printing a fat quarter with which to make an accessory or something can be a great way to rejuvenate your scraps! This is not a formal challenge at all, just something fun to get the creative juices flowing for the new year! x

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Isca shirt instructions

Hi there, just a quick announcement. I have been thinking how to make these files a bit easier to access, so instead of leaving a link on my blog which can get easily lost I have created a listing on Etsy for the minimum amount they allow. I hope this is still as good as free! From there you will receive files for the pattern, an A0 copy shop file and also instructions.



Have a good weekend everyone! xxx

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Isca shirt pattern - free extra pattern pieces

Edit - I have now published a listing on Etsy for the minimum amount they allow to make accessing the files a lot easier. Hopefully this is still as good as free! Included is a print at home, copyshop and instruction file.

Hey, hey, it's Christmas treat time!!! When working on the Isca shirtdress I was always considering the possible variations which could come from the pattern. I do this with every pattern I design, but in order to get a pattern out, sometimes you just have to keep it really concise. The obvious pattern variation is to turn the pattern into a shirt and I was so close to including it, but the pattern was just getting too huge. I mean literally at 4 x A0 pages as published! The pattern pieces were already created and have been sitting in a file, so I thought I would share them with you today. I shall write a separate post with construction notes on how to sew up the new pieces this weekend, but for now I shall just talk about the design details. P.S. skip to the end for an exciting discount on all PDF patterns!

So the shirt is such a great shape. It has shaping through the bust and shoulders as per version A of the main pattern with additional shaping to the back in the form of darts. It has the right amount of relaxed fit for comfort with a flattering shape to follow the shape of your curves. Can you tell that I love it?

I have created a link direct to the PDF here containing the additional pattern pieces you will need to sew this shirt. A new lower front, new back, new button placket and sleeve cuff. You will absolutely need to buy the pattern to make use of these pieces as there is no sleeve, armhole or collar but it's so worth it!




There is no skimping on the finish here and I think it is really fun to construct. I hope you do too! ;-)

The hem is curved and sewn before the side seam, but then bar tacked to reinforce the area. This may not be an order of work you have come across before, but it is by no means unique!



The sleeves have an additional cuff to add a wee bit of length, but to also give you something to turn back. If like me you like the look of a traditional cuff, but always roll your sleeves back then this is for you. It gives the look of a full length sleeve without the extra bulk or constant pushing back of the sleeves. This is something that I have seriously considered.... VERY IMPORTANT STUFF!


The seams are finished as nicely as possible so that when the cuffs are pulled back there are no rough edges.


While I'm showing you stuff, here's a close up of the shoulder reinforcements from the inside. Designed to offer longevity to your garment they also add a nice detail to the overall shirt. You'll just notice that I have finished the armhole seam with a zig zag. This is the only seam finish which is not concealed. I prefer to trim and zig zag to reduce bulk. Top stitching the seam allowance down can cause unnecessary pulling in this area, so I'm happy to leave it plain. As with all sewing, it is down to preference, so I wouldn't be surprised if you like to finish this area differently to me.



I just love how it looks from the inside.


To round off here are some pictures of the shirt on a real body. Dress stands are fine, but sometimes it's more helpful to see a garment on a moving person. I don't own many shirts so it's hard to define what I want from one, but this feels very me!






Now onto that discount I mentioned..... If you would like 25% off any of the PDF patterns in my shop then just type in the code MERRYXMAS17 at the check out. I cannot apply discounts to my paper patterns I'm afraid as I don't have the capacity to manage that kind of sale. I hope you understand!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

My Honetone coat!

Hello! I thought I would just pop by to show you my Honetone coat which I personally wear. Although not brand newly made it is keeping me very warm at the moment and I made a few changes to suit my own personal preferences.

I just love the colour of this coat first of all, but I can't link to the fabric as it was low in stock when I bought it and has since sold out. It is a double twill weave from Fabworks mill shop and is similar to this pink one which I used for a version here. The difference is that this has a very slight hairy texture.


This is 10cm longer than drafted and because the addition was nothing to do with my proportions I just added the length to the bottom of the pattern.

The button band is also narrower than that of version A. I used the narrower band as I thought the poppers I was planning on using would look better. I actually rarely wear it done up to be honest as it is very warm! This is probably because I interfaced the entire front and back as well as used a pre-quilted lining.



Considering how much I have worn this coat it is still looking pretty fresh. I have sat on it, used it as a blanket and generally thrown it around as I do all my coats and the only creasing is in the non-interfaced arms. Definitely don't skimp on the quality of interfacing. I use this one from English couture and it's beautifully soft and yet stabilising. There is also a horsehair canvas back stay and front armhole reinforcement which really stabilises the top half of the coat.



Here is what it looks like without the scarf even though this sweater is not the best neckline with the coat...


Quick shot of the beautiful pre-quilted silk lining. I bought this from a silk shop in Berwick street, London a million years ago. I hadn't been to London very many times at this point and was so over excited to be in these posh silk shops that I completely splurged on this fabric. I have then been bitten by 'the fear' for over 10 or more years unable to cut into it. So happy I finally used it and it's so nice to see it every day. Because it is quilted I hemmed the main coat and the coat lining separately and then did some chain links to keep the two layers together.




I really love wearing this and it is making my other coats pretty redundant at the moment. I haven't even reached for my feather down coat yet as this is so toasty so that's excellent, although it's always nice having that in the cupboard. I somehow feel a bit smarter in this though and yet still casual. Basically I love wearing it!

Sunday, 19 November 2017

isca shirtdress in denim tencel

I really, really want to share this version of my new Isca pattern with you as it's the one I wear most of the time, but I am finding my desire to have be picture taken is lower than ever. I decided to just go and do it this morning in my one day worn and creased dress before we go out for the day in this same outfit. So this is me being me and trying not to look too uncomfortable in the process. I hope you likely!

There is not much to say about said dress other than the super drapey slubby denim tencel is from Blackbird fabrics. I bought it about a year ago, but I think its the same one as this one here.

So here are some pictures of how I'm wearing it today! xxx