It’s not just clothes geting made around here!

Nope, anything goes!  I have just finished some cushions that I started back in June! *blushing*  Excuses – none really, I just lost focus and made other things instead!  I thought I’d pop them on here so you can see the other stuff that gets made in this house.  I made these for a shop in Stratford upon Avon.

The Arter - Stratford upon Avon

The Arter is a gallery stocking arts and crafts from 26 artists in the locality.  They have some fabulous stuff, and the goods range from handmade jewellery to glass, pottery, felted creations and ceramics.  If you are ever visiting Stratford on Avon, make this little National Trust shop a place to visit!  I don’t think there is another quite like it!  In this tiny picture, it is the shop with the little red bits in the window!  Soon there will be workshops and other fun activities run there, I am looking forward to them!  Visit their Facebook page for more information.
So, the cushions.  I wanted to make some kiddie ones, and I just love the way children use colour.  A child’s colouring in book is full of the most amazing colours, so this was my main draw.  I also love the way they see things “flat”, so the designs are not 3D at all, but flat, like children draw.  I chose four African animals, to reflect my roots, and I had just come back from a 3 week holiday in South Africa, so homesickness was still coursing through my veins!  I figured I had better have some English animals too, especially as they were to be sold in a National Trust shop!

African Animal Cushions

The animals are all applique, the black outlines are free machine embroidery, I wanted it loose, so I didn’t use a satin stitch, which is what you usually use for applique.  I wanted the lines to be within the shapes I had cut, so it looks like the colours have over-run.  The giraffe cushion has a patchwork design of triangles on the bottom, not my most successful technique, but it looks good.  The swirls are what you want them to be – suns, stars, clouds…  And the grass is pink.  Why not??

English Animal Cushions

Ok, only three..  I couldn’t decide on the fourth, so instead of it holding up the works I figured I had better get on with the others.  My favourite is the fox, he is just so cute!  The same techniques were used on these cushions.  I have restricted the pallette, otherwise it could have gone overboard very quickly.  These colours are bright and cute, without being brash.  The back is a sturdy dark blue denim with an envelope closure, topstitching in a loverly orange.  The size is 30x30cm, a really nice size for a child’s bed.

I have grand plans for these designs, I have roped daughter no 1 in – I want her to paint these for me so I can do framed prints etc.  So what do you think??

Purple Haze

Phew!  A project that worked!  It is fair to say that this project has been way more successful than the poor dress…

Purple Haze Ruffled Top

So this was made from the easy fitting bodice block.  At first I thought I’d adapt the block to make it a dropped shoulder and lowered armscye…  Not successful!  I toiled it up and wasn’t impressed.  The easy fitting block is loose anyway, but with the added 10cm from the adaptation it was swimming on me!  It was rather hideous.  So I went back to the table and just did a dropped shoulder.  I moved the bust dart from the shoulder to the underarm, and shortened it quite a bit.  I only wanted a small amount of shaping as the fabric is supposed to have some room to drape.

Georgette and the inspiration picture

The shoulder was dropped by 5cm, which really seems to be the limit.  I am quite happy with it.  I used French seams on all the seams, and double turned the hem so there are no edges showing anywhere.  The facing was cut a little wide to support the ruffles.  Initially I was going to have 3 rows, but the two work just fine,  I think it would have been too much to have another.  This pattern really worked well.  I have some other fine, fluid fabrics that this would work in, or I could come up with something else…

Ruffles at neckline

Now usually I wouldn’t buy a polyester, I prefer to work with natural fibres, but when I saw this georgette online at Ditto Fabrics, I had to have it.  The colour just screamed: “BUY ME!!!”

Ruffle top

When a plan doesn’t quite work out

You know the feeling when you are about to cut up your favourite fabric – the “Oh boy, I hope this works” feeling.  Then you take a deep breath and go for it.  I finished the Kimono dress in that fabulous silk.  But I don’t like it…  OH NOOOO!!!

Photos will follow, once I can force myself to get daughter no 1 to take some for me.  I don’t quite know what went wrong – the pattern doesn’t go with the shape, I hate the waistband area…  So for now I will pop it back in the cupboard and get on finishing the purple georgette blouse which, fingers crossed, seems to be working out better.

I have learn one thing though – I do NOT look like the figure in the sketch!!  I will have to make some templates that are more my shape than a tall skinny minny!  Perhaps that will help me to be more realistic!  I saw a pin on Pinterest a while ago…  and I think this sums up my predicament perfectly, although it isn’t always the camera and the mirror who disagree, it’s me and the mirror/camera!

Reality

Friday – busy day!

Wow, I can honestly say I am gobsmacked!  This little blog of mine has been ticking along with a handful of visitors, when suddenly the tracking spiked!!  Thank you so much to BurdaStyle for making me featured member of the week!  Another big thank you to those who have added my blog to their subscriptions lists, and those who left me comments.

New Blocks

So back to work!  I have re-drafted some of my personal blocks.  After making the jacket this last month and having way too many adjustments to make, I gave in.  So yesterday I drew a new Jacket Block, Coat Block, Close Fitting and Easy Fitting Bodice Block.  They will all be used this season!  I still need to toile and fit them, and draft their respective sleeves, but in the mean time I thought I’d share what I intend to do with them!

I have a lovely purple georgette that has been begging for something pretty and floaty.  I am going to use the Easy Fitting Bodice Block to make a loose-fitting top with a dropped shoulder and ruffles along the neckline.  Isn’t that top cute?  And purple will make a change to my usual grey, black or blue!  The georgette is not silk, unfortunately, but I loved the colour when I saw it on Ditto Fabric‘s website, so I had to have it!

Purple Georgette & Ruffle Top

Next, the Close Fitting Bodice Block will be converted into a One-Piece Dress Block and then I will adapt the bodice and sleeve to form a Kimono Block.  I have FINALLY decided what that green and turquoise silk is going to be!

Silk Graphic Kimono Dress

The Coat Block is going to be a hip length Pea Coat in the most beautiful pale, ice-blue cashmere that I bought at Fred Winter back in January on their winter sale!  I already knew I wanted something different, so I also got some Liberty silk for the lining and some Dupion to make piped details!

Cashmere and silk for Pea Coat

And the Tailored Jacket Block??  Something simple.  A cropped jacket with 3/4 length sleeves, possibly cut on the bias to take advantage of the burgundy/maroon flecks in the grey wool I got last week at Fred Winter.  I was really good, only getting 1.7m instead of going for the remains of what was on the roll, 2.5m!  I am sure I would have used it somewhere, but if I had got 2.5m I just know I would still be procrastinating this time next year!  I am going to use the last three buttons from my antique shop purchase, the others are on the Spotty Jacket.

Grey wool and Jacket sketch

So that’s that!!  Busy me!  Have a fabulous sunny weekend (if you are in the UK) I will be making winter goodies!  😀

How to make a Skater Skirt

Two posts in a week!!  I think it is about time I did some catching up!  😀  Here are the instructions to make the pattern for a skater skirt, using the tailored skirt block from the previous tutorial.  This pattern will give you a 12 panelled skirt.

Skater Skirt

Step 1

Trace off the skirt block as one piece.  Move the side seam to the centre of the block.  Divide the block along the hip line into 6 equal parts and draw lines from the top to the bottom of the block to make the panels.  Make sure these are at right angles to the hip and hem line.  The red lines in the drawing are the original block lines, the blue ones are the new lines for the pattern.

Step 1

Step 2

Draw a dotted line parallel to the waist and hip line, 14cm down from the waistline.  Construct new darts on the panel lines to touch this line.  Ignore the old darts (the ones in red on this drawing).  The darts on the back panel lines are 2.5cm each, and the front darts are 1.5cm each.  Add 1cm to the back and front side seams and draw a new curved line to the hip point.

Step 2

Step 3

Decide where the skirt will sit at the waist, whether you are having a straight waistband, a shaped waistband or a facing.  Also decide on the finished length.  For this project I dropped the waist line by 2cm and made the skirt 40cm long overall.  Mark the length – don’t worry to add a hem allowance at this point, it is better to have the finished length when you toile it up.  Adjust the waistline accordingly.

Step 3

Step 4

Cut along the new waistline.  Number the panels and add grainlines perpendicular to the hipline on each panel.  Cut off the bottom at the new hemline.

Step 4

Step 5

Mark a facing 5cm deep on the pattern and trace this off, including the markings for the darts.  Cut the facing and close the darts to make a curved pattern shape.  Mark the centre front and back, and for a skirt with a side zip, label the centre lines as being placed on a fold.  You will need to add a seam allowance to the side seam of each facing piece, as well as to the top.  Standard seam allowance is 1.5cm.

Step 5

 Step 6

Cut up the panel lines of the skirt.  Stick paper down each side of the panels and add 3-5cm (or more if you want a really full skirt) to each side of each panel piece.  Add seam allowance to the top and sides of each panel, but leave the hem for now.  The pieces I show have had the fulness added from the dotted line that was 14 cm down from the waistline.  You could also use the hipline as the start point.  This would make the skirt more fitting to the hip, only flaring from there.  You need to decide where you would like the fullness to start.  I have shown a 4cm flare at the hemline.

Step 6

So that is your pattern.  For making up, it is easier to make the whole front and back, and then to attach them at the side seams.  Remember to leave the left side seam open to the hipline for a zip.  Sew the front and back facing together at the right side seam.  Attach the facing to the top edge of the skirt, clip and understitch.  Interface the facing.  At the toile stage you can finalise the finished length, then add the hem allowance to the paper pattern.  For this skirt 2cm should be sufficient.  The fuller the skirt the more difficult it will be to hem with a deep allowance.

I would love to see the skirts made using this tutorial, so please post them, either on Burdastyle or Pinterest, with a link back here.  Happy pattern cutting!

Spot That Jacket

Ok, apologies need to be made….  I have neglected my blog.  It’s not that I wasn’t doing anything else, I just didn’t have much to write about until I had finished this project.  I know I had posted that fabulous green and turquoise silk, and I will still make it up.  Although it may not be along the lines of the dress posted!  While indecision plauged me though, I had something lined up!

Black and ecru grossgrain

I had bought this spotty cotton and silk grossgrain from my favourite fabric shop, aaaages ago.  I won’t even try to calculate how long I have had it!  Anyway, I had seen a jacket in a shop, about 2 years ago (!) that I liked the neckline of, and I quickly sketched it.  This was the basis of the jacket I have just made.  Sorry this is a bit blurred!

Jacket with Peter Pan Collar - Sketch

I wanted something that would fit snugly in the back, and also provide some sort of indication of shape at the waist (a bit of a cheat, as there really is none!).  I made the basic tailored jacket block and had husband draw on the panel lines, with me checking in the mirror!  Then I cut the block up and transferred the lines onto the paper pattern.  I closed the darts and voila!  The front is plain, just two panels with welt pockets.  There wasn’t much point in doing anything fancy as it would detract from the collar.

Jacket toile - back
Jacket toile - front

The toile was cool, the shape worked really well and I love the curves on the back.  Although, thinking about it, you can’t really see the section seams that well amongst all the spots!  Oh well.  Another thing to think of is the collar.  When I toiled the jacket I only did one layer, and it seemed ok, but…..  In the finished garment the narrow ends near the centre front seem flat.  I am going to have to tighten up the neck edge of the collar pattern to encourage a bit of a rise there.  But it is no train smash, perfectly wearable!  lol.

Jacket Panel Pieces

So, the structure – I used fusible interfacing from Gill Arnold.  I used the weft insertion on the “t-zone”, the hem edges and the upper cuff and collar.  The facing, under collar and cuff were interfaced with the fine sheer polyester.  This is to reduce bulk while still ensuring support.  I made a pattern for a chest piece and cut the canvas on the bias.  I didn’t use any canvas in the collar, perhaps once I fix the pattern and make another I may use a bit on the lower edges, just to make sure the shape is held properly.  Cotton tape was fused down the front opening edges to make ensure a sharp fold.  The shoulder pads are a felted tailor’s set, also from Gill.

And this is the finished product.  Daughter no 1 thinks it’s really cool to take photos at an angle, so no need to adjust your sitting position while viewing the pics!

Spot that Jacket!
Front Detail
Jacket - Back

I seem to have spots on the brain, as I am making a blouse now, a black and white spotty silk chiffon!

Drafting a Skirt Block

The straight skirt block is the basic skirt pattern,  from which pretty much all other skirt patterns are made.  This tutorial is based on the method in Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting.  I have included the two size tables for your reference.  You do not need to take every measurement!!  For skirts take your waist and hip measurement (if you are not sure where or how to do this, check here).  Compare your measurements with the table and get your waist to hip measurement from the table.  If you have different sizes don’t stress too much, the waist to hip doesn’t vary that much, so go by the one for your hip measurement.

Charts

Measurement table
Measurement table for Mature figures and adjustments for tall or petite

So, armed with your waist, hip and waist to hip measurement you can begin.

Step 1.

You will be starting with a rectangle.  Draw a line roughly parallell to the top edge of your paper.  Put a small line and a #1 on the left of the line.

1 – 2:  Measure along the line 1/2 of your hip measurement, plus 1.5cm.  Make a mark and  lable it #2.

1 – 3:  This line MUST be 90 degrees to the line 1 – 2.  Finished shirt length.  For the purposes of a block, make this knee length, so make this line about 50cm long, and mark the end with a #3.

3 – 4:  Is the same as the measurement 1 – 2.  Again, make sure all your lines are straight and at right angles to each other.

2 – 4:  Close the rectangle.

Step 1 - The Rectangle

Step 2.

1 – 5:  Waist to hip measurement from the table.  Mark #5 and draw a line across the block to intersect 2-4.  Mark this point #6.

5 – 7:  1/4 of your hip measurement, plus 1.5cm.  Mark #7 and draw a line down to the hem for #8.

Step 2

Step 3:

1- 9:  1/4 of your waist measurement, plus 4.25cm.  Mark #9 and draw a short line up.  #10 is 1.25cm up this line.

Draw a dotted line from #1 to #10.  Divide this line into 3 equal parts and mark points # 11 and #12.  Draw lines from these points at right angles.  The line from #11 is 14cm long.  Mark point # 13 at the end.  The line from #12 is 12.5cm long.  Mark point # 14.

Step 3

Step 4:

Draw darts on the two lines from #11 and #12, 2cm wide.  (that’s 1cm on each side of the central line)

2 – 15:  1/4 your waist measurement plus 2.25cm.  Mark #15 and draw a line up.  #16 is 1.25cm up this line.

#17 is a third of the measurement 16 – 2.  Draw a line from #17, 10cm long.  Mark point # 18 at the end.

Step 4

Step 5:

Draw a dart 2cm wide on the line from #17.

Find the halfway point of the lines from #7 to #10 & 16.  Mark a point 0.5cm out from this point on each line.  Draw a curved line from #10 to #7, and #16 to #7.  Make sure these lines touch the point you just marked and that they flow easily to the straight line from #7 to #8.

Draw a slow curve from #1 to #10 and #2 to #16.

Add notations, Back, Front and centres.

Step 5

At this point, also add your name, the date, and the measurements you used, ie, hip and waist.  This will come in handy when you want to check whether or not the block still fits you later on!  So now you have a half skirt.  To do the next step, you need to ink in the outer lines, the line from 7-8 and the darts.  Then use tracing paper and trace out each skirt piece separately, so you have a front and a back.  Cut the front out on a fold and cut 2 back pieces.  Remember that the block has NO SEAM ALLOWANCE!!  So add to the side seams and the centre back.  Also remember to leave the centre back open from waist to hip so you can get it on!  Keep this pattern uncut.  If you need to make adjustments, use coloured pens to mark new lines, and DATE the adjustments.  Use the patterns you traced off this one to cut up, otherise you will have to make a block everytime you want a new pattern.  This is your template, keep it safe!

I will post the method I used to make the skater skirt next.

Happy drafting!  Any questions, just shout, and if I haven’t made anything clear enough, please let me know, and it will be fixed asap!