Thursday, 19 April 2018

Cocoa Stripe Frankie Dress

I bought the Tessuti Frankie pattern a couple of years ago and over time I've made a couple of tops which see a lot of wear, especially Spring and Autumn.  I've been keeping my eye out for the right fabric to make the Frankie dress which is just a longer more flared version of the top and I found a Cocoa and white woven stripe in cotton spandex at Girl Charlee. I checked the weight with Mark and he said it was slightly heavier than their Bolt Cotton (220g/m2 compared to 180g/m2) (see a Bolt clothing example with these PJs) and it worked out as the right weight for this style. The fabric is a designer overstock and is lovely quality. I would use it for tops and dresses with an A-line shape or gathered at the waist like a Colette Moneta.

I used a mix of my tweaked Frankie top pattern and a fresh PDF print out of the dress laid over the top. Stripes are tricky to cut and this is a cotton with 5% spandex which means great recovery but also the fabric curls very easily when laid out flat. My solution is to mark the centre front fold with pins, then cut a vertically symmetrical half with the pattern pinned on and lay the cut-out fabric along the fold matching up the stripes on the uncut fabric. The first half acts as a pattern piece and stripes can be matched exactly. I repeat this for the back. For sleeves, I cut them one at a time and use the first face as a pattern for the second, laying the right side to right side to create a mirrored pair.  I did the same process on my Sew Over It Molly Dress.

As with my other Frankies, I used a Liberty lawn facing rather than jersey which is a departure from the original pattern; they recommend a jersey facing. I am wearing a nude colour cool-feel stretch slip underneath which I often wear under shift or jersey dresses as it smooths any underwear lines and stops bright colours showing through, plus it seems to make all dresses hang better.

Size XS body, S sleeves and armhole,  3/4 sleeves, short dress length. The only alteration was the front neck is dropped down in the centre about 1/2" more than the original line. For reference, I'm 5'5" with a 33" chest. You can read my general thoughts on the pattern construction here. I pinned and basted all the stripes to pattern match the sleeve and side seams.

I'm really happy with the end result.  It's a simple shape, I really like the close fit at the shoulders and the trapeze style flare from the bust line downwards. It's incredibly easy to wear, forgiving on any belly ins and outs and perfect for warm weather, although the elbow length sleeve option is on my radar when I make another!   Girl Charlee kindly supplied the fabric for this blog make. 

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Spelling Bee Saturday: Jar of Hearts Block

Hello again and welcome to my third stop on the Spelling Bee Saturday! I am this Saturday's guest blogger for the mega Fat Quarter Shop and Lori Holt sew-along and this time, I've sewn up antoher picture block, 'the jar'.  The heart always makes me think of Christina Peri's Jar of Hearts song... 

This one is quite a busy block but I think I've just about got away with it; the aqua gives sufficient contrast.  
Here are the fabrics used, some are from a few years backs so I only have minimal details!
Background: Heather Ross Tiger Lily, Small Roses in Cream
Jar: Denyse Schmidt, DS Quilts Collection, Daisy Mae for Fabric Traditions (2011)
Lid: Alexander Henry
Heart: Various red scraps

I loved this block so I made a second, this time with a linen background:

Background: Robert Kaufman, Essex Linen
Jar: Riley Blake recipe print (2011)
Lid: Alexander Henry
Heart: Suzuko Koseki for Yuwa Button fabric, Cloud 9 Checks, Lecien Old New floral, and a sketch type print.

For all the blocks I make from this book,  I've used Lori's design boards to organise the block pieces, it stops me losing the little bits! They are quick to make and are a great use for cardboard and batting offcuts. Here's a jar block before construction begins...

My plan is to sew an 'I Love... style quilt using the Picture Day layout from the Spelling Bee book.  Here are my blocks so far,  I'm hoping to alternate the backing fabrics.  The Globe block was still having it's embroidery addition when I was photographing these. I've mixed in some of my Sew-Ichigo designs (lamp and radio) alongside Lori's blocks. These all have a finished size of 6" square.

If you've been following along and want to check other people's blocks for inspiration, the Instagram hashtags are:  #SpellingBeeSaturday and #fqsquiltalong
  • Links to all the Spelling Bee sew along blocks so far are here
  • My review of the Spelling Bee book is here where you'll also find links on where to buy the book.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Wendy Ward's A Beginner's Guide to Sewing With Knits: Book Blog Tour!

I am so happy to be a part of Wendy Ward's A Beginner's Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics book blog tour.  The book actually came out at the beginning of the year but sold out so quickly, the tour had to be delayed to allow the second run of copies to be printed!  Wendy has a particular talent for demystifying and simplifying the sewing process and knitted fabrics are her specialism.

I made the Kinder cardigan which comes with three length options. Wendy has posted lots of versions of these on Instagram and it has been a popular pattern with many social media sharing sewists.  I made a test garment from some gold french terry that's been in my stash for a while: I wanted to check the sizing and experiment with length and pockets. As with Wendy's other books, the patterns are full-size and printed on paper sheets at the back of the book and you trace off the pieces you need. Some pieces extend over two sheets and there are extension lines, matching scissor symbols and numbered points to help you match the pieces - just remember to transfer all the markings when you are tracing off the relevant section.  A quick reference key for locating the pattern pieces for all the garments can be found on page 23.

I made a tester version first in some gold coloured french terry that I've had for a while. I traced the smallest size, extended the length beyond the shortest option but not as long as the mid-length option. I also included the pockets but placed them higher. You do need to plan the length of the Kinder before you stitch it up as the pockets are sandwiched in the neckband and side seams and the neckband creates the hem length.  I chose long sleeves without the cuff. There are five size options and you use your actual bust measurement to decide. Wendy includes finished measurements for bust, sleeve and back on this garment so you can make pattern alterations if needed before you cut out. This pattern has plenty of room built in so it can be layered over clothes.

Good result, great pockets, but I thought the shortest length would suit me better and work well with skirts and dresses. The fabric for the second version was kindly supplied by Minerva Crafts. It's Atelier Brunette french terry which is a wonderfully soft, mid-weight, french terry sweatshirt fabric- this is the same weight, different print.  It is stretchy, especially for a french terry and the colour is a deep navy with bronze/gold sprinkles.  I've used this fabric before and I find it easiest to hand baste all my seams before overlocking to manage the stretchiness and keep the seams even whilst sewing. If you've been following the book tour, you'll remember that Zoe used the same fabric and also made the short version, before going on to make a longer version in Ponte de Roma. You can find other sweatshirt fabric options here at Minerva.

So let's talk more about the Kinder. I see it as the beginner-friendly cousin of Wendy's MIY Langley cardigan. Construction is simpler and with a neat finish and the result is a wardrobe stalwart that will enjoy lots of wear! As with the other book patterns, it can be sewn on a sewing machine or using an overlocker and a sewing machine. On the Kinder, the hems are finished with straight stitching on the machine as no stretch is needed- so on my version, the neckband top stitching and all the hems are sewn with a long straight stitch. My favourite part is the neckband which just like the Longley cardigan, fits like a dream and sits very nicely on my neck. My only change on this version was to taper the sleeves from armhole to wrist and shorten the sleeve length by 1"/2.5cm at the cuff.
There's a plethora of guidance in the book for sewing the Kinder, as well as the other patterns and for sewing knits in general. There are extensive fabric recommendations for each garment and all the photo samples have fabric credits so you can recreate the look. Wendy suggests beginners start with a stable knit for the Kinder as it's loose fit doesn't rely on stretch.  Ponte Roma would work well, as would sweatshirt, jersey or scuba, so there are lots of options.  As with Wendy's other books, instructions are detailed and clear, supported with generously sized diagrams and photographs and there's something to learn for all levels of sewing experience. The aesthetic is clean and modern with classic basic shapes suitable for everyday, active and loungewear. There are lots of other bloggers to catch on the tour all with different styles and the tour continues with the Minerva Crafts Blog

A big thank you to Wendy's publisher, for sending me a copy of the book for being part of the book tour.  They are also offering blog readers 25% discount when buying a copy of A Beginner's Guide to Sewing With Knitted Fabrics via their retail site, Just enter the code BLOG25 at the checkout, valid until 21st April 2018. Bargain!

Monday, 2 April 2018

Simple Folk Month 2

I completed the second month of Simple Folk, Sarah Fielke's block of the month for 2018.  You can see my first month's blocks here. The swan block was straightforward; the hardest element was choosing the right balance of fabrics and I'm not totally happy with my choices but they're ok and in the whole quilt, I'm sure they'll be fine.

I've been following the directions pretty much to the letter so those tiny eyes are turned by hand.  I do use Karen Kay Buckley's perfect circles for any circles that fit the sizes I have but the eyes are too small for that.

The second block was a bit more challenging and I panicked a bit getting it all to fit and ended up trimming the odd leaf and tweaking the placement.  I'm happy overall but the top pollen circles were a bit of a squeeze and the vase is a little wobbly.  The fabric layers certainly build up and guidance about cutting away has only just come up via Facebook group discussions so I'll incorporate that more into future blocks and go back and trim on what I've sewn so far where possible. 

Meanwhile, I'm storing my blocks in a block book, made from a free tutorial included in the BOM.  The block is from 500 Quilt Blocks, I still have some of my favourite blocks from the book! 
I'm happy with my blocks so far and I'm feeling more confident with the applique techniques as it progresses. 

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Denim Pinafore with Embroidery

This project has been a while in the making. I bought the dark denim from Plush Addict at least six months ago. It's quite heavy, like a sturdy pair of jeans and it's heavily dyed so I prewashed it a couple of times and it still made my fingers blue when working with it. It stayed in my stash until I gradually formed a plan with a vintage pinafore dress pattern, an embroidery book and a Cotton + Chalk Sunday set pattern...

I started with the embroidery and a large chunk of denim that could be trimmed down for a pocket.  The pattern is from Zakka Embroidery by Yumiko Higuchi. It is a genuinely inspiring book, there's such incredible beauty and simplicity in her designs. I traced the outlines on to Sticky Fabric Solvy which I've mentioned before.  You can see the process from stitching to dissolving to the finished design.
The bib, straps, waistband and pockets were cut from the Cotton+Chalk Sunday Set pattern. This was a freebie with Simply Sewing magazine and given to me by a friend. I made a size S and it is generously sized. I did make a quick waistband before cutting the other pieces out but it still came out larger than I planned so I tightened it a little with an extra bit of overlap on the waistband clip. The skirt was from a Woman's Realm vintage pattern. It's a long triangle shaped A line with a few gathers at the waist and I chose the longer view on the right which without the frill is a long midi. I did make a trial of the bodice of this pattern originally but it was way off in size with lots of fullness in the front. The Cotton+Chalk pattern is a circle skirt with gathers which is a bit full a bulky for the look I wanted. 

The side pockets were sewn using an 'Out of sight' feature in the March issue of Threads magazine. It was one of those technique articles that they do so well and it created the best finish on the inside as well as the out. Threads is one of the few magazines where I cut and keep the features.  The top stitching was done using Gutermann's top stitching thread from a denim thread box. I used theGutermann's standard sew-all thread shade 339 in the bobbin and the top stitching thread on top with a Superior Threads 100 Top stitching needle.  I've tried various ways of doing this and a large top stitching needle makes a big difference to keeping the thicker thread tension even.

My daughter described this look as 'Scandi Kindergarten teacher' and said I looked like I was ready to whip up a stack of flower crowns out of twigs and wild flowers.  She knows me well.  Thanks to her for taking these pics on one of our regular beach walking trips.  It was a genuinely slow stitch project with a fast ending and it has already been much worn in the last week. 


Sunday, 25 March 2018

March at Eternal Maker, Plush Addict and Village Haberdashery

Easter holidays are coming up so I thought I'd squeeze my monthly selection from my long-time sponsors so you've time to order before they start!  

  1. Outback Wife 2, Anna in Teal, Barkcloth.  Kathy's second Outback Wife collection is just as beautiful as the first.  Suitable for garments, decor, bags and quilts. Other prints are here.
  2. Kinder, Heather Ross for Windham.  Anna has seven prints available from Heather's latest collection.  See a bundle here, or individually here. 
  3. Blue Paint Stripe on Viscose.  Drapey dressmaking fabric, wide width (57"/150cm). Ideal for warmer weather garments!

  1. Makower Beach Comber.  Blue and British maritime imagery, 11 FQS! Free bag pattern designed for this collection here, and quilt pattern designed by Lynne Goldsworthy here.
  2. Liberty County Garden in Pink.  Liberty's latest quilting cotton collection, there are individual prints and a bundle in the blue colourway too
  3. Merryn, a debut collection by Diane Rooney for Makower.  According to the Makower website, Merryn is an ancient girl's name meaning "born of the sea".

  1. Sunprint 2018 by Alison Glass for Andover: Build a bundle  Saturated colour selection 
  2. Rainbow Stretch Jersey.  Cotton with 5% elastane for a great recovery!  Gorgeous bright stripes.
  3. Printed Cotton Denim-lightweight. Cute, small-scale (less than 1cm/3/8" tall) anchor motif and a fabric weight that will work in dresses, shirts, trousers and more. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

I AM Patterns Zebre Sweatshirt Review

The belated cold snap in the UK has lead me to wear my various me-made sweatshirts on heavy rotation. I have multiple Linden tops and I'm always on the lookout for another reliable sweatshirt pattern so when I saw a few versions of I AM Patterns Zebre sweatshirt popping up on Instagram, I thought I'd give it a go. It has flared bell style sleeves that end with a long shaped cuff. One shoulder is finished with a placket opening and snaps.

I bought the PDF, two-in-one Zebre with a full sleeve at the cuff and Lion which has a puff shoulder. The body shape is the same, it's just the sleeve shape that varies.  I made a test garment first (pics are on my IG @verykerryberry) using the Lion pattern but reducing the puff to a standard shoulder using other jersey tops to sketch the curve. The text version was size 38 which matched my body measurements but came out at quite a generous fit, although still very wearable; it has been already been worn a lot!
The Zebre version uses quite a lot of fabric as the sleeve pieces are wide. I used the most wonderful, drapey french terry from Eternal Maker.  It's produced by Lady McElroy and has around 20% stretch so enough for bands and ease and is a lighter weight than many sweatshirt fabrics, so perfect for the extra fullness at the cuff. I cut a size 36 with no size alterations. For reference,  I'm just over 32" bust and 36" hip, 5' 5" height.

The pattern came with English and French instructions.  The English instructions include imperial measurements and the seam allowance is 3/16"- easier understood as either a scant 1/4" or 5mm. This is for an overlock sewn version, I adjusted my seam width to fit so no trimming was needed as I overlocked the seams. If you wish to use a sewing machine throughout, the instructions suggest that the seam allowances are increased when you cut out/trace the pattern. Otherwise, construction is straightforward and pretty basic. Hems are finished with bands. My only addition was to add stabilising tape on the sewn shoulder and fusible interfacing on the placket shoulder. The placket construction is very easy, just folded over fabric- no separate pieces are added. I'm really happy with the finished top, it works well with long skirts and the sleeve finish adds a little extra drama and style to a warm, cosy sweatshirt. It is a quick make, I could stitch one up in two or three of hours and I am not a fast sewer! Definitely one to repeat.  If you prefer a paper pattern version, Alice is selling this style at Backstitch.