Tag: cotton

So, I made a skirt.

The Brumby.

I was browsing on The Fold Line (a website that any sewist should be a part of imo) and came across the pattern for this garment. Now, I dont need a new pattern, far from it, I have enough to keep me going until I die of old age. Sometimes, though, you see a design and you have to have it. A bit like fabric finds in a haberdashery; you’ve enough fabric to last you until eternity but somehow this one piece screams your name.

Anyway, I digress.

meganneilsonskirtI guess you either prefer PDF or you prefer paper; I am in the former camp. Not only do you get an electronic copy of your pattern to print and re-print to your hearts content but you also get it instantly. Win-win. I downloaded and printed out the PDF for the Brumby immediately. I did become a little frustrated at how long the pattern was taking to put together but that wasnt the fault of the designer. My printer decided to have a hissy-fit and only print half the pattern; I wasnt sure what pages had printed so instead of working out which pages I needed I re-printed the lot. As you can imagine this had me drowning in a pool of PDF printouts! I finally got there though and before I realised it, it was 2am!

Once I’d managed some zeds, gone to work and made it to the weekend I embarked on the cutting out. This was very simple. I’ve cut out some patterns that frankly over-complicate matters but I could not accuse this designer of that. In fact, if anything I could have done with a couple more notches (which tbh I could have put in myself). I made sure to pin REALLY well. The last pattern I made I cut badly due to a lack of pinning, I wasnt making that mistake twice. Once cut I employed my sparkling new seam notcher (thats another post!) and made sure I had everything marked down on the fabric, I set to work.

This is one of the easier patterns I have done and could suit a beginner, but due to the nature of some aspects (such as gathering and inserting a zip) I would say it would suit an advanced beginner.

I would normally overlock at the beginning but the pattern didn’t call for this upfront and rather than stray from the instructions before I had even began I thought I would go with the flow. This meant I was twoing and froing between machine and serger but it didnt matter in the big scheme of things!

Attaching the two skirt fronts to form a centre front seam was straight-forward and I achieved the best topstitching of my sewing life! A big tip: don’t bother causing a hernia in your lower stomach trying to concentrate hard enough to do a straight top-stitch, make life easy on yourself – use an edge stitching foot. It has a guide which you can position on the seam and then you can set your needle as far from that as you’d like.

Gathers and me do not normally get on very well, I do not have the patience to ensure they are even, but I tolerated them for such a cute pattern. The trick with this pattern is to put a line of basting stitches right through the width and then begin to gather the stitches from the centre seam outwards. Initially I gathered from one end and it didnt play well when I came to doing the other end…

Waistbands are the bane of my life. For some reason I have struggled to understand which end you attach and initially I put the band on upside down (always check when pinned). Once I’d ripped those stitches and re-set the band the garment started to on take a life of its own.




Attaching the zipper was interesting. This designer had a specific way of putting it in, which sounded confusing but once I started to do it was actually quite straight-forward. It was my first time putting in an exposed zip (surprisingly) and I love the look it gets. There were points of putting it in that became quite fiddly but two things that really helped were two-sided tape stuck between fabric and zip to set it in place so I could sew, and marking the point of the waistband on the left and right sides of the zip – I was then able to ensure the zip was set in evenly when done up (nothing worse than a wonky zip). I then secured the waistband using the ‘stitch in the ditch’ method rather than hand-sewing (although it ended up looking more like top-stitching).

I produced the shorter skirt on the pattern but I also cut a few inches off when it was ready to hem as it was still knee length and thought it would be better a bit shorter. To hem I serged and then turned the hem under by an inch. You can’t see it in the photo but trust me when I say it worked.

Timewise it took me longer than it should have for various reasons but I think this can be produced in about 4 hours, maybe a bit longer or a bit shorter.

What fabric did I use? I used a light green duck fabric from my stash. This was bought from eBay for £5 a meter, it is cotton twill. The softest cotton in the world! So easy to work with! And I made this version with two meters. The pattern stated you would need more so I was pleasantly surprised to find out I didn’t need so much.

Would I make it again? Yes I definitely would, I made this one for someone else but I think I might make the longer version for myself. As a bigger person I am wary of making garments that flare out but I think with the right top and shoes this could look quite vintage, and is work-appropriate too (just as well as I don’t go many other places).

Would I change anything ? I would perhaps use a denser fabric as this one looked slightly see-through in the photos, or do a lining. The pattern is sold with a denim in mind so perhaps I would go down this route next time.




What do you think? Would you like to give this pattern a go? Have you made it?

I have been a huge fan of Tilly and the Buttons since I found them as a sewing newbie. Their brand is bright and colourful, their designs modern retro (I guess). Tilly’s byline is ‘learn to sew your own clothes’, and by purchasing her patterns I was well on the way  (from someone who thought they would never achieve dressmakery this is quite a compliment!).

To date I have bought her book Love at First Stitch, Francoise dress, Arielle Skirt and Bettine. It is Bettine I am going to review today.

I ordered the pattern online and it came pretty quickly. The pattern is made of thick paper (almost card) and is only printed on one side so will be re-usable time and time again. Nothing worse than a pattern made out of something you use to wipe your nose then to have to recycle it to use the other side!

Bettine_sewing_pattern_cover_grandeMy first step was to trace the pattern pieces. I could just cut them out and use but in case I want to make the Bettine in a different size in future I opted for tracing it. There are lots of different ways about doing this (a blog post in itself!) but I use greaseproof paper (which you can buy from the pound shop!) and a Sharpie.

The pattern comes in 8 sizes and gives guidance on sizes and measuring yourself – this is really helpful. It’s also simple to understand. I decided to make this in a size 5 (roughly a size 12) so I could give it away as a gift.

Once my pattern pieces were created and cut out, now came the time to pick fabric. For this dress I decided to go with a cotton twill I had in my stash – green with white bows on it. It is slightly Christmasy but not enough that you couldn’t wear it the rest of the year. I only had two meters and was concerned it wouldnt be enough but following Tilly’s advice about laying wide fabric out, I managed to cut everything within the stash I had – result!

Once the fabric was cut and the markings made with water washable ink, I found it really helpful to write which piece was which on the fabric in the seam allowance.

Before I started to make Bettine I read through the booklet that comes with the pattern. I think this is a really good idea. I am a huge fab of this booklet. It gives simple step by step instruction with colour photos to show what she is talking about. There was only one time I couldnt work out what she meant, which was probably my lack of experience, however given it’s for newbee sewers I would expect this to be explained. This didn’t take away from the experience – I just used my initiative and did what I thought she was asking.

I added my own touch with a star button on each tab. Ignore the green line on the facing, that will wash out in the machine!

As it was the first time I’d made Bettine, I expected there to be errors and for it not to come out perfect, but to learn from that. I have to say I exceeded my own expections. It did take a long time to make – from tracing, through to finishing the hem it was 9 hours of work (which I would expect to be speeded up in future) and so was quite a process, however it was a lot of fun to see my project coming together and mistakes were few and far between – pretty unusual for me!

Pockets! I am in love! So glad I made the pocket version!

My biggest problem was getting my serger to work properly – I ended up giving up on that and using pinking shears instead. My only other trouble spot was sewing the channel for the elastic. I sewed from the underside and ended up sewing half the skirt together (or the pockets in the wrong place anyway!) so the seamripper did come out for that. And I had to thread the elastic twice as it got twisted – otherwise a very straight-forward exciting project that I throughly enjoyed.

Love the shape of the skirt, so sexy! No gushes of wind up the bum! Really love the elasticated waist, this will be so comfy to wear!

I can’t tell you the immense pride and joy I experienced looking at my finished garment. I never in a million years would have believed I could make something like this, it is by far the most advanced dress I have made to date. I went for the pocket and tab version – thank you Tilly and team!

Here is the finished garment. Thee picture really doesnt do it justice. I am very happy with the end result.

New serger!

For as long as I have been sewing (which, to be fair, isn’t that long) I have wanted a serger/overlocker. On the one hand they don’t seem to do a great deal (they sew hems, so what?) but on the other hand they would raise my work a level and could, potential, ruin my need to perusing the high street chains… (if only good quality fabric didn’t cost the earth… )

DSC_0019So, this month I bit the bullet and decided to buy a serger. I had my eye on the Brother M1034D, it is one of the cheapest on the market, and I have seen great reviews for it. I went into my local Singer shop and they didn’t have that one but instead offered a Janome counterpart. They also said they had a second-hand Toyota going for almost half the price of the Janome, so my fate was sealed. Singer also gave me four cones of thread for £10 which was pretty decent. I paid the price, sent the BF to pick it up and went back to work.
DSC_0016When I eventually got time to play with her, it was fun fun fun. I’d heard that sergers were difficult to thread but I did not find it too difficult. Getting my head around which dial was for which was more of a learning curve.

When I got to sewing, I found it to be a complete dream. It did not take long to ensure all the tensions were correct and I was away! I really liked the fact it cuts and seals the edges. One of my least favourite things on a sewing machine is having to either trim or zig-zag, and it never looked that great. But, yes, fab with the serger.

Then doom set in; I had to change a needle.

DSC_0018That part was okay, it wasn’t rocket science. And although I’d been spoilt with my automatic threader on my sewing machine, I managed to get the needles installed and threaded.

Suddenly my tension was all over the place and I could not work out why. I moved the dials around, re-threaded, re-installed the needles, I tried everything. Eventually I relented and posted on a sewing page on FB asking for help. Between us we worked out that I wasn’t ‘flossing’ correctly;  once that was sorted I was back in the swing of things.

I then got to making a little girl’s dress. I don’t have a little girl but I wanted something easy to follow. I printed off a pattern by Crafty Gemini and got to work. It was the easiest thing to make (it shouldn’t have been – it was jersey and stripes!).

I should not have been lazy and done the neck and arm lines on a normal sewing machine (as I dont have shears) and the hem too, but this was just a practice so did the lot with the serger.

DSC_0020This is the result, I am really pleased with it overall, I would have liked to put bias binding on the neck and arms, and done a better hem (really wonky)  but pretty pleased with what I came up with.

What was the first thing you made on a serger? Do you like using a serger or do you prefer to stick to a sewing machine?



I have been keen to acquire new sewing skills recently so I have been following some on-line tutorials. One thing I have always wanted to do was make piping but it looked really difficult. So when Melanie Ham published this tutorial on Youtube and made it look simple I had to give it a go.

I bought some fabric for the occasion but before I used that I wanted to do a dry run with some of my stash (always a good idea!). Here is what I used to make a cushion cover with piping.

  • Quilting fabric (20×20 inches, 20×14 (x2))
  • Co-ordinating thread
  • Piping cord
  • Pre-cut bias tape

I won’t go into a step-by-step as Melanie already does that very well on the link above; suffice it to say it was so simple!

When I was making the piping out of cord and bias tape it really fed itself through, I didn’t even need to use pins. I was dreading attaching it to the fabric as I knew if I went wrong it would be here but it was plain sailing. It went on like a dream. I did put a second row of stitches over the first row when putting the back covers on top just to ensure the piping would look as good as possible but other than that I didn’t do anything different to Melanie.

Here is the finished item:




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