Tag Archives: top

Fibre Mood Mira Dress

Hey Everyone, it seems like all I have shared for quite a while now is free t-shirt patterns so I thought it was time to share a “proper” make with you! The Mira dress by Fibre Mood is a little bit outside of my usual style but I have loved every single one that I have seen pop up on my Instagram feed so I thought that perhaps I should give it a try. I have actually been put off woven garments for a while as I always struggle with the fit and it seemed like so much effort to get it just right compared to knits.

For the past few months, I have been taking part in “Elevate your Sewing” an online sewing membership run by CL Hardie aka The Thrifty Stitcher. The Zoom classes together with the encouragement of all the lovely members have really given me a confidence boost in finding a good fit and mastering a number of sewing techniques. In the three months that I have been a member I have already seen an improvement in my sewing but especially in my confidence to diagnose and fix fit issues with my handmade garments.

Despite the flouncy style not being in my usual wardrobe repertoire I really like the shape. I have always struggled with summer clothes – I don’t like anything too short or strappy, but get too hot in my go-to jeans and t-shirts so this easy breezy dress looked like it might just fit the bill. I had 6 metres of viscose twill from Pound fabrics (3m in a green/black camo (ish) print and 3m of a plain bright blue) so I had plenty fabric to play with to get the fit just right. I do love my final garment but it certainly wasn’t easy sailing to get there. Read on to find out all the alterations I had to make (WARNING: Its a long one so strap in!).

 

 

if you are just here for the pretty pictures …keep scrolling for some more of this beautiful dress

Version 1: Top length in green/black twill

Based on my measurements I opted for the size 38 and added a 1/2inch FBA (1″ total increase). This is a fairly standard adjustment for me so I was more than happy to make that change to the pattern before cutting any fabric. Somehow, figuring out which size I wanted to cut took me so much longer than usual as I was having a complete mental block on the fact that the measurements were only in cm!

I then went ahead and cut out the fabric and stitched up the top. I foolishly didn’t do any fitting as I was going as the loose flowy style of the garment seemed like it couldn’t really cause too many problems. The top came together really easily and there are some lovely finishing touches like the bias bound neckline and the slit in the upper back with a hook and eye closure so I had a lot of fun constructing the garment.

However, when I went to try it on I realized that the fit was not at all good! Strangely for me, the front fits me almost perfectly,  but it was the back where all the problems were. For starters, it was way too big – so much so that the hook and eye just won’t stay closed as there is no tension holding it. It gapes quite a lot where the back slit is and sags down quite a lot at the centre back with the weight of the gathered tier.

I found that taking photographs from each side is a really good way to assess the fit issues objectively. With a photograph, I can look at the garment and think about the problem areas without focussing on my body – which inevitably happens when you look in the mirror. Definitely, a fit hack I would recommend to everyone!

I started pinning out the excess and took 2inches out of the back width! Only then did the top start to sit a bit better on me. I actually took out the width from the centre of the shoulder seams all the way down to the bottom of the back bodice piece. You can see from the pictures that the shoulder seams are hanging over my shoulders by quite a way so this seemed like a good way to reduce both the back width and take some of that length out of the shoulder seams too.

To make this adjustment on the pattern I just cut the back bodice right down the entire length and overlapped by 1″ (2″ total removed across the whole back). To make the corresponding change to the front shoulder seam I did a narrow shoulder adjustment using the slash and spread method shown here. I took 1″ out at just the shoulder seam as I didn’t want to change the fit across the bust at all.

I was also finding I had very restricted movement in my arms as the underarm was really too low for me. To fix that I followed this video tutorial to lift the armscye by half an inch on the front and back bodice. This involved a corresponding change of 1″ on the sleeves.

So to summarize the fit issues and solutions I found for my first top:

  • narrow back – remove 1″ from back bodice vertically from the centre shoulder to bottom of the bodice
  • narrow shoulder – slash and overlap front shoulder by 1″ (front only)
  • restricted arm movement – raise armscye by half an inch on the bodice and 1″ on sleeves

Version 2: Another top length in green/black twill

After pinning out all these changes on my top and transferring them to the pattern I was hoping that my second version would be a success. I whipped up another top in the same fabric and this one was in fact wearable!

(Ignore the raincoat hung over the door – we had a bit of a downpour earlier and had run out of space to dry things!)

Looking at my photographs I could see the shoulders were sitting better and there was less gaping at the back. The horizontal lines were also sitting better but there is still some dragging down at the back.

I decided to wear this one around the house for a little while too, just to see how it was comfort-wise and if there were any areas I felt restricted. The top stayed on well and the hook and eye closure wasn’t falling open. It still pulls down a little at the back but not anywhere near as bad as before. I have a much bigger range of motion in my arms and overall the fit is a lot better. However, after my successes with the alterations, I decided I could make it even better as it was still not perfect.

Again I started pinching and pinning and looking as objectively as I could at the fit of the garment. I decided the back neckline was still a bit too loose and pinched out 2cm from each side (For this part of the fitting my brain had switched to metric so apologies for the change in measurements but I want to share everything as I did it). To transfer this to the pattern I added some darts to the back bodice neckline. I also narrowed the centreback some more by cutting the entire length of the bodice about 1 cm in from the centre back and overlapping it by 1.7cm

I then shifted my attention to the front. Although at first glance the fit seemed fine there was definitely some fine-tuning to be done. Now the shoulder was fitting properly it seemed like the front armscye was protruding past my arm socket so I pinched that out by 1.4 cm. To transfer this to the pattern I actually undid the narrow shoulder adjustment from the previous version. I then did an L shaped slash and spread from the centre of the shoulder seam to the bottom third of the armscye and moved this in by the 1.4 cm I had pinched out. I then readjusted the shoulder seam using the slash and spread method as before to be the same length as the back (approx 1cm smaller).

I also noticed the position of the shoulder seam was not right on my body. It was fine at the shoulder but angled toward the back of my neck so I marked my preferred position with pins. To make this change on the pattern I simply cut off a wedge from the front bodice at the shoulder corresponding to the line I marked on the top and stuck it onto the back bodice piece. (This step was particularly aided by the absence of seam allowances on the Fibre mood patterns – I imagine it could be trickier if you had to measure out where all the sewing lines were).

Finally, I decided the sleeves were quite wide (this was a style preference and nothing to do with the fit so I narrowed them by 1.4cm.

So to summarize the fit issues and solutions I found for my second top:

  • narrow back neckline- add darts to back neckline, 2cm width at neckline and approximately 6 cm in length angled toward the fullest part of the shoulder blade
  • narrow at centre back – remove 1.7cm from the full length of the back bodice
  • narrow front armscye – L shaped slash from centre shoulder to lower third of armscye. Overlap by 1.4cm (readjust narrow shoulder from the previous toile to accommodate this)
  • change line of shoulder seam by removing a wedge from the front bodice and adding it to the back bodice
  • narrow sleeves by 1.4cm

Version 3: Dress length in blue viscose twill

With all of my changes transferred to the pattern, I set out to make what I hoped would be my final version. I sewed up the bodice and had a quick try on to check I was happy with the fit. It seemed perfect so I decided to go for it and make this version into a dress.

From a lot of the pictures I’ve seen this dress comes up very short – which is not something I’d wear so I decided to go cautiously and add 1.5″ to the length of the first tier and tried it on. I then measured the length for the second tier (I went with 12.5″) to have the dress finish at knee length. As I was adding the second tier I decided to take out some of the fullness (approximately 8 inches) as it seemed like it was going to be very extra(!) and seeing as this style was already outside of my comfort zone I didn’t want to push it too far.

I am really pleased with the dress – it is perfect for summer. It is so light and breezy but I don’t feel like I have lots of skin on show which is my usual problem with summer clothes. It’s definitely a new style for me but I am pretty smitten and this colour is perfect. I often struggle to add anything bright to my wardrobe and when I do it is inevitably blue but when it makes me this happy I guess I’d be a fool not to!

If I had to pick fault with this final version I’d say I have narrowed the sleeves a bit too much and it feels a little tight on my biceps but that is such a minor thing compared to the changes I’ve made.

It has certainly been an experiencing getting this dress to fit but I would definitely say its been worth it – I’ve got a beautiful dress and I’ve learnt a lot along the way!

To anyone who has stuck with me this far – thank you. I hope this post has been interesting/useful for you. I’d love to hear how you’ve got on with the Fibre Mood patterns – I really like some of the other patterns but I’m concerned they will all need this much work!

Helen

 

 

ps. if you want to keep up with all my latest makes why not follow me on Instagram!

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Plaintain T-shirt – free pattern review

 

Free to download pattern from deer & doe

The Plantain T-shirt is a free to download pattern from Deer & Doe so there is absolutely no reason not to give it a try. Given my new-found obsession with sewing with knits after completing the SewOverIt online course I was looking for a few good staple knit patterns and this one seemed to fit the bill.

It is a simple shaped t-shirt but with three different sleeve lengths and optional elbow patches it is so versatile I think it would fit into anyone’s wardrobe!

ELBOW PATCHES

One of the defining features of this pattern is the elbow patches – now whilst they might not be to everyone’s taste I was enamoured and so excited that I could add a small patch of fabric from another make to this one – giving the whole outfit a feeling of cohesion! For this first version. I chose a fun triangle print fabric from Girl Charlee and paired it with remnants from a simple jersey pencil skirt I made a few months ago. It is not amazingly obvious in these pictures but the skirt is made in a black jersey that is SPARKLY!! So now i also have sparkly elbows!!

At first I wasn’t sure how I would get on with the fit of this T as I prefer my t-shirt fitted through the torso and this one is more of a swing style. However, after a few wears I am convinced and actually like that it is a bit roomier! I will obviously still stick to my tried and true silhouette most of the time but this is a good one to through into the mix to change it up every so often.

As this is a free pattern it is only available in pdf format – altogether it took me about 20 mins to print out, stick together and cut my chosen size – not bad at all considering what you are getting for free!

The details:

Pattern: Deer and Doe Plantain T – FREE

Fabric: Triangle print jersey from Girl Charlee and sparkly jersey from The Village Haberdashery

Notions:Guterman thread

Alterations: size 36 at shoulders up to 40 at bust(front) to 40 at hip

 

If you liked this overview of my project why not keep up to date with my current makes over on Instagram

Plantain T-shirt: The free sewing pattern that is worth every penny

Sew Over It Online Course: Intro to Sewing with Knit Fabrics

Following on from last years Me-Made-May I decided I needed to stop sewing so many fancy dresses that would only get worn occasionally and start bulking up my me-made wardrobe with items that I could wear everyday. For me, this means comfy clothes that are smart enough to wear for work – the perfect solution? knit fabrics!

Sew Over It Online Course: Intro to Sewing with Knit Fabrics

Some of you might be aware that over the past four years I have been working towards my PhD and that at the end of last year I finished it and am now a doctor! Well, as part of that process I had to write a thesis (around 350 pages) and then defend it in a two and a half hour interview. Only then could I say I had passed. After I had finished writing the thesis and handed it in I was ready for a good break before I started my new job and had the interview to prepare for so I decided to take a week off and bought myself the online course on sewing with knits from sew over it as a fun thing to do in my new found free time!

In that first week after completing my thesis I worked through the whole course and had sewn my first version of each of the included patterns : the Emma dress and the Alice top. Since then I have sewn another version of each of the patterns. So I have definitely achieved my aim of bulking out my me-made wardrobe with comfy everyday clothes that are smart enough for work

The course starts out with a some tips on picking your fabric (the two patterns that are included require quite different fabric choices with different amounts of stretch and so this is a really useful starting point. I then went straight onto my first Emma dress which I made in a navy blue Ponte from Girl Charlee. The fabric was lovely to work with – it only has a small amount of stretch and so is quite easy to sew as it doesn’t need to much attention to prevent it stretching out.  

The instructions for the Emma dress were really clear and I whizzed through the first one in no time – even inserting an invisible zip in a stretch fabric! Something which sounds quite daunting but the instructions were so clear and before I knew it I had done it. Although, given the fact the fabric is stretchy I don’t think the dress really needed it and so I decided to omit it from my second version and I have no problems with getting it on and off so I think it is only really required if you choose a fabric with hardly any stretch.

I was so pleased with my first Emma dress I made a second straight away. For this dress I decided to risk straying from the instructions slightly and chose a lighter weight jersey, and omitted the zip – the dress has a lot less structure in the lighter fabric but I still really love the style of it and love the fit you can get with those princess seams (FBAs are so much easier!)

I then moved onto the Alice top. The construction of this top is really interseting as it has a lined bust panels and I must admit the first one I made I was convinced I had wrong until i turned everything through to the right side and miraculously it looked like a top! What I really love about this top is that the pattern comes with three different cup sizes so there was no need for me to make any adjustments.

The first Alice top I made (not pictured here) was in a blue diamond jersey from Girl Charlee – unfortunately the pattern was not on grain and so I decided to abandon all hope of lining it up anywhere and just went straight into cutting. Given the different panels on this top I don’t think it really matters as there is so much going on with the gathered centre front and separate panels. My second version is made in the softest grey jersey it is just the most comfy top ever!

This top is definitely a lot simpler to make than it looks and again the instructions are clear and easy to follow – I can see myself making a few more as it is a good work-wear staple and I have already have loads of people ask me where I bought it from (cue smug face when I tell them its handmade!)

The details:

Pattern: Sew Over It Intro to sewing with knits online course Emma dress and Alice top

Fabric: Navy ponte de roma, charcoal and black gingham, blue diamond jersey, soft grey jersey (all from Girl Charlee UK)

Notions:Invisible zip in the navy Emma dress, Gutermann thread

Alterations: Navy Emma dress size 12 with 0.5 inch FBA, Grey Emma size 10 with 1 inch FBA, Alice tops both size 8 with D cup

I can truly recommend this course, I had already sewn with knit fabrics before starting it and had really just bought it for the patterns that were included. This would definitely have been worth it if that were all I got from it as the patterns are really lovely but actually I learned quite a lot from the course. The instructions were super clear and I picked up a few handy tips along the way

If you liked this overview of my project why not keep up to date with my current makes over on Instagram

Triumph and Defeat

I just came across this draft from Spring last year – I never published it because I couldn’t bring myself to take any pictures. However, I still think it needs to be heard – especially since I have now made two dresses from this book (one blogged here and one here)and they have both been huge successes (although to be fair they don’t have any sleeves!!)

Anyway…here goes…

Nearly 4 months after receiving Chinelo Bally‘s book for Christmas I plucked up the courage to give something a try. Freehand fashion is a bit of a scary concept. You take what seems like hundreds of measurements. mark some crosses on your fabric calculated from those measurements and then cut away at it. What comes out the other end surprisingly resembles a pattern piece!

I decided to stick to what looked like one of the simpler garments and opted to make the boxy top. I dutifully took all my measurements as described in the front of the book, performed all the calculations needed and then sat down to work. I decided if I was going to do this properly I should work straight onto my fabric (the book does suggest for the wary sewer you can work on paper first and create a kind of pattern piece). I cut out the front and back pieces and got sewing.

The fit was amazing! I guess that’s what you get from working off your measurements rather than a pattern. I so pleased with my triumph at creating a top without a pattern.

Next came the sleeves. This is where everything went wrong. The first set of sleeves I made was so tight I couldn’t even lift my arms up past about 45 degrees. The second set were massive. The set of sleeves I finally stuck with are still pretty huge. I think I am going to claim that as a design choice. Maybe next time I give this a go something will click and the sleeves will be fine but I might just cave and use a pattern piece from somewhere else for the sleeves.

The details:

Pattern: No pattern! Instructions based on the boxy top in Freehand Fashion: Learn to Sew the Perfect Wardrobe – No Patterns Required!

Fabric: Abstract print sateen from somewhere on eBay

Notions: Black Gutermann Sew All Sewing Thread

Alterations: None! It was made to my exact size!

I am really pleased to have given something a go from this book and think it could be really great once I get the hang of it. I think I might start using it to make really great fitting tops and bodices but then add some of the features of my favourite patterns. It seems like it might be more straightforward than trying to tweak the fit of a pattern bodice.

If you enjoyed this sneak peak into one of my less successful projects why not keep up to date with my current makes over on Instagram where I post everything from the wins to the fails and all the progress shots in between.

Have you ever tried something and it not gone to plan? I’d love to hear about it in the comments so that I don’t feel quite so alone in my defeat!

myspace styke photo in my upcycled top from old jeans

Alteration Challenge

I feel that I am probably a little bit too excited that the Great British Sewing Bee has returned to our screens. In preparation for tomorrows episode I decided to give it a go myself by taking up last weeks alteration challenge. On the show the contestants were each given a denim shirt and asked to create something new out of it.

Well, I didn’t have an old denim shirt lying around but what I did have was an old pair of skinny jeans

old skinny jeans

So those would have to do.

Now all I needed to do was decide what I was going to turn them into, after a while searching pinterest and none of the hundreds of upcycling projects appealing to me I decided to come up with my own plan. I found a top of mine that has a nice shape to it and decided to use that as a pattern template.

Now it was time to begin…and in true GBSB style – start the clock! Oh yes, I was taking this seriously if they have to do it under pressure in the sewing room then so do I!

First step was to cut down the inside leg seam and along the crotch of the jeans to give me the biggest flat pieces of fabric available to work with.

Jeans cut along inside leg and crotch seams

Then I took my top and laid it out on top of the fabric and marked out where the seams needed to be for the front and back pieces. I cut these out leaving a good 3/4 inch seam allowance all round. The fabric wasnt quite long enough to have the front and back pieces as long as the original top – but so what! Crop tops are cool…right?

Use a top as a pattern template
Next I cut off the waistband

So now I had the front and back pieces for my top, I had to decide what to do about sleeves. I decided to use the remaining part of the jean legs. Only problem was they were a bit too narrow. However, in some beautiful coincidence it turns out that they were too narrow by the width of the jeans waistband so off that came and got attached to the side of the leg!

Attach the jeans waistband to the side of the leg

Now I had all the components of my top it was time to begin construction. First of all I began by pinning and sewing the sleeves onto the front of the top, right sides together and sewing with a 5/8inch seam allowance (although this is smaller than I had allowed for based on the original top I thought it best that the top be roomier than the original considering the denim-style fabric)

Pin the sleeve to the front piece         Front piece of top with sleeves attached

I then folded the sleeves over )along the original seam from the side of the leg) and pinned them to the back piece. I attached them with top stitching to keep the feature of the waist band.
Back of top with sleeves attached

Next task was to sew the front and back of the top together at the side seams. Now its beginning to look like a top!
2015-02-10 18.27.45

It was trying on time and guess what it fit! (kind of). THe sleeves were very baggy which I knew they were going to be given the way they looked compared to the original top so I tapered them at the shoulders and cut them both the the same length
sleeve sew from shoulder to edge to form a taper

I then hemmed the sleeves and neckline as well as the bottom. I decided to keep the cropped look as the way in which the jean leg had tapered gave it a nice loped bottom so it wasn’t to short after all.

finished top made from old jeans

Yes I know its a little wonky and the seams don’t quite match on both sides(I bet Patrick and May would have a field day on this one!)but I did it I turned a pair of old jeans into a wearable(ish) top and all in just 2 and a half hours!

and to prove I did wear it here is a terrible (myspace-style) picture as I had nobody to take it for me!
myspace styke photo in my upcycled top from old jeans

2015-02-10 19.22.40