As a newbie looking to dip their toes into dressmaking it must be overwhelming to discover just how much resources and information there is out there. I know I am always looking at patterns and could spend an absolute fortune on them if I wanted without really knowing what I was buying (hint – I and many others have done this!). With this in mind, I asked the lovely members over at the Dressmaking Blogger Network on Facebook to tell me what their go to patterns are and why:
I have been granted the luxury of a couple of weeks off work and am using the time to sew and be crafty. Aside from my wedding dress, which I have already blogged about, I’ve made two other garments: a self drafted gathered skirt, and Seamwork’s Akita blouse.
Self-drafted Gathered Skirt
This is my first pattern that is completely self drafted, and somewhat an experiment for releasing patterns in the future.
I drafted three rectangles: two for the skirt, and one for the waistband. I interfaced the waistband, sewed together and inserted an invisible zip. Et voila!
I used some penguin fabric I have had in my stash for about a year. It feels like a thick muslin with penguins printed on it.
I had some initial problems gathering, which was down to my own laziness. I hate gathering with a passion and avoid at all costs 3 lines of basting. I put one line in, then realised I’d zig zagged! So I used white elastic instead, but I cut the width in half which made it fray like mad, so that didn’t work either. Eventually I decided to zig zag over a long piece of yarn, which was the easiest of all. Once I passed this stage the skirt was a breeze. When it came to inserting the zip, I interfaced where the zip would be sewed for extra structure (although to be honest the fabric didn’t need it) and then basted the zip in before sewing with an invisible zipper foot. Hemming was also easy as I serged the edges and then folded under with a special hem card I’d made.
I wore this down to the beach yestrerday; it was very comfy but it became apparent when I asked Mr Penguin and Pear to take photos that it did not suit my shape at all. This is very much a pattern for slimmer people. Not sure why a bias cut dress suits me (my wedding dress) but this doesnt, but hey ho!
Seamwork’s Akita Blouse
I’ve been a subsciber to Seamwork for a couple of months but this is the first pattern I have made from the magazine. I wanted something simple and the instructions said this sews up in an hour (spoiler alert: it doesnt).
I started to put the PDF pieces together last night and as I was doing so I started to think this was the longest blouse I’d ever made. So much so I even checked I’d downloaded the right pattern. It turned out – which I would have known if I’d read the instructions, that there is only one pattern piece. There is no shoulder seam. I was both impressed with this and a little concerned. One pattern piece means minimal cutting out and prep, but on the other hand one pattern piece could be restrictive if you needed to be creative with your fabric layout. Some people online have reported putting a shoulder seam in and making it a 2 piece pattern, which I guess would make sense.
The pattern said it needed 1.5 metres so I had to find a fabric in my stash that was big enough and which I didn’t mind using as a toile. I found one, which was a shirting cotton Mr Penguin and Pear had bought me. In hindsight this fabric was too thick for a pattern that should have used a rayon/viscose/silk/lawn or something similar, but I thought it was good to learn the techniques anyway.
I am not sure if the pattern was unclear, or I did not understand the instructions but apparently I did it wrong. You had to put bias tape on the side seams and I finished it off before sewing the seam, and I don’t think I was supposed to do this. No matter because it still worked well and I think it gave a very polished finish.
It was a simple pattern and while it did take me longer than an hour I am sure I will speed up in future attempts. I would definitely make this garment again but I will use much drapier fabric, and possible move the dart down a tad.
I need to write a post about body positivity because I am not feeling very positive about my weight having crept up again. I am starting a separate blog about weight loss as I am now following AIP – basically a med diet for those with autoimmunity issues, though the blog wont be able that specifically just all the facets of weight loss so I can document the decline and help me to keep on track. If you would be interested in following this blog, please leave a comment and let me know.
What makes have you sewed up in July? I would love to see what you are making/ have made. Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading,
So, I made a skirt.
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.
I 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?