Thursday, 27 April 2017

My Pledge for Me Made May 2017

Well, it's almost that fun time of year again, and time to make my Me Made May pledge for 2017. This will be my fourth year participating in this fun sewing community challenge. Thanks so much to Zoe for organising this wonderful event which is in it's eighth year.

'I, Jean of and sewjeanmargaret on Instagram, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '17. I endeavour to wear only me made garments each day for the duration of May 2017 (excluding underwear, jeans and accessories)'

I will try to post daily photos on Instagram and I may do a weekly round up on the blog. I'm so looking forward to following along with all the other participants this year. Please join in the fun. You can tailor your challenge to suit yourself. This is not a competition, just a bit of sewing fun.

Happy Sewing


Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Style Arc Jema Panel Dress in Denim

Style Arc Jema Panel Dress
This panelled shift dress features a round neck and slight bell shaped sleeves. The panels offer a colour blocking opportunity or the panel seams can be frayed to create an exclusive look.

Style Arc Jema Panel Dress

I could not find any other Jema Panel Dresses on the internet, except for Anne from Clothing Engineer who has done an excellent review of this pattern which I found most helpful. The line drawing is not quite right. The proportions of the panels are different. I moved all the horizontal panel lines (except the top short front panel) down about 10 cm to better reflect the line drawing. I cut a straight size 12 and made no other alterations.

The fabric I used is a light weight denim from Spotlight. I decided to go with the frayed seam lines as a feature. The fringe is a light blue one way, and navy blue on the opposite grainline. I was careful to make sure the light blue fringe would feature on the vertical seam, and the navy fringe on the horizontal seams.

The pattern went together easily, a testament to Style Arc's great drafting skills. This dress was quite simple to construct and I would recommend it for a beginner seamstress. Anne from Clothing Engineer expanded on the technique of lapping the seams before creating the fringe which I found very helpful. I have included a photo of this step to show it clearly.

The lower panel's raw edge must be finished off to avoid fraying. (I overlocked mine). Mark a line 2cm from the finished edge. Mark a line 1cm from the raw edge of the upper panel that will be frayed. Now lap the upper panel over the lower panel, lining the raw edge up with the marked line on the lower panel. Pin and stitch along the line marked on the upper panel. Then stitch another line parallel to the stitching line.

Red thread was used for the entire construction of this dress, as I thought it would be a fun contrast, and I was too lazy to bother changing threads between sewing seams and top stitching. For the top stitching I used a triple stitch to make it stand out and I am really pleased with how this worked out.

I sewed this dress in a few stints over the Easter break and I found creating the fringe to be very time consuming, but I do like the effect. I opted to turn up the hem, and the sleeve hems and top stitch with two rows of triple stitch, rather than finishing off with a fringe.

I sewed the sleeves in flat, before sewing the side seams and sleeve seams all in one go. The sleeves eased in effortlessly. I only needed to run one row of gathering stitches around the sleeve head to ease it into the armscye. I eliminated the back neck opening as it was unnecessary and the neckline is finished off with a double inside binding and top stitched. I also added a decorative top stitch on the shoulder seams and the centre back seam.

After wearing this dress all day today, I am a little disappointed in how it has bagged out in the seat and is sticking out strangley at the lower front, probably due to me sitting all day at work. This fabric may have been a little too stiff for this pattern and a fabric with a little more drape may have worked better. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. Now onto the next project...

Happy Sewing


Sunday, 2 April 2017

Style Arc Hedy Designer Dress in Blue Bamboo Print

Style Arc Hedy Designer Dress

This is the Style Arc Hedy Designer Dress in the longer calf length version. I have made the shorter version previously here. I cut a straight size 12 with no alterations at all. The line drawing is a little misleading as the sleeve length finishes above the elbow and is definitely not 3/4 length as the illustration shows.

Style Arc Hedy Designer Dress

I am loving this longer version. It feels very elegant to wear. The fabric is a poly/spandex knit from Knitwit. I can't find it on the website today so I assume they have sold out. It's a lovely quality fabric with the perfect drape for this style. Also, no ironing required which makes it the perfect travel dress.

The fabric is thin which is ideal for this pattern, because the crossover fold at the front is several layers thick and can end up quite bulky if a thicker fabric is used. I had this problem with my first version, but this one was smooth sailing.

The design lines get a bit lost in this gorgeous bamboo print but I am happy with the overall look of the dress.

A close up view of the front cross over fold at the neckline. The neckline is finished off with a facing and it sits beautifully in this poly/spandex knit. I secured the facing with a few hand stitches at each seam allowance around the neckline, so it doesn't flip out at all.

A close up view of the side seam and front in seam pocket. This is such a clever design and comes together very nicely.

There are side slits at the hem line for walking ease. I over locked the raw edges of the side seams, before sewing the side seams with my sewing machine. The seam allowances were then pressed open and the side slits top stitched. The hems were all cover stitched.

The shape of the dress with arms out stretched is quite voluminous but the fabric drapes beautifully with your arms in the usual position.

I wore this dress out to dinner with my hubby for date night, last night. I felt elegant, stylish and comfortable so I guess it's a winner.

Happy Sewing


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Style Arc Ginger Knit Top #3

Style Arc Ginger Knit Top

I've used this outrageously multicoloured knit from Knitwit to create another Style Arc Ginger Knit Top. The fabric is still available and is currently on sale for $12 per metre. This is my third time sewing this pattern, and I doubt it will be my last. Here are the links to my first version and second version. It's just perfect for work, loose fitting, comfortable yet stylish and works well with pants or a skirt.

Style Arc Ginger Knit Top

I sewed this up on Sunday afternoon and wore it to work on Monday, so it's almost one of those instant gratification patterns. The most difficult part of the construction is sewing the pleats. I always find pleats in a knit a bit of a challenge.

This knit was only a two way stretch, not a four way stretch like my previous versions and it did alter the fit slightly. This one feels a little shorter as it has no vertical stretch. The print has quite a lot of orange in it and that's not a colour that suits me very well. I spent quite a bit of time positioning the pattern pieces on the fabric to include as much of the green and fuschia pink to offset the orange.

I love that this fabric requires zero ironing. It is so easy to care for and wear which is a huge plus when I am rushing to get out the door in the morning, heading to work.

All the hems were sewn with my coverstitch. I am wearing it here with a Style Arc Sara Skirt (which I have pegged in quite a bit at the hemline) in a black stretch bengaline. I made this skirt ages ago and is a great work wardrobe staple.

Repeat patterns are awesome and as I have made my three tops from completely different prints, I doubt if anyone, except another sewist, would realise that I had used the same pattern for them all.

Happy Sewing


Saturday, 11 March 2017

Style Arc Mary Shift Dress in a Jacquard Knit

Style Arc Mary Shift Dress

My version of the Style Arc Mary Shift Dress did not go quite as I had planned...all my own fault. Apparently, when working with a fabric where either side can be the right side, you do need to focus and apply a certain amount of concentration as each construction step is executed. I originally planned to have black sleeves (using the reverse side of the fabric) which would have highlighted the raglan sleeve design, but I only realised my error when I went to press the raglan seams which I had already overlocked. The prospect of unpicking all those stitches in a knit was just too much so I went with a design change, mid project.

Style Arc Mary Shift Dress
I also disregarded the suggested fabrics of silk, rayon, crepe or lace and used this lovely Knitwit Integrity Jacquard Knit. This fabric is so lovely to wear. It is a double knit with a lovely drape, but not as much body as a ponte. It also has a lovely quality feel about it too. Due to my fabric choice, the dress turned out very roomy and I ended up running in the side seams, including the sleeves to achieve a nicer fit. This has added to the A line shape of the dress too.

I do love the nice fit around the shoulders in this pattern. The darts at the top of the raglan sleeves certainly contribute to this.

The centre back seam was eliminated so I didn't have to match the print. Instead of hemming the sleeves, I added black bands to match the black trim on the pockets and the black neckline binding. I think this ties everything in together nicely.

Sorry for the blurry side shot, but this is the only photo we got of the side view. Our photo shoot in the front yard was interrupted by our neighbours calling out. It's always awkward taking blog photos when other people are watching. The design on the fabric seemed to be a little distorted, although I centred the black motifs directly down the centre front and centre back, they didn't run exactly straight horizontally.  

This made pattern matching the pockets very difficult, but I am happy with the final result.

The 4cm hem was cover stitched. I used a very helpful tip from Emma who blogs at Earnest Flagg. She suggested I use the seam guide that came with my Bernina 350PE to set the distance from the edge that I needed to position the cover stitching. This worked a treat. Thanks so much Emma for sharing that tip.

This is how I wore the dress to work, dressed up with a bright scarf. I can see this one working with tights and boots for winter too. I had a request on my last post, from DarlaB to share how I do my neckline knit bindings. I know a lot of you already know how to do this, or have your own preferred way. As I used this technique during the construction of my Mary Shift Dress and remembered to take photos I thought I would share them here.

Step 1:
Leaving one shoulder seam open (or in this case one back raglan seam) sew a line of stitching around the neckline at the position of where you want your finished neckline edge to sit. Then carefully trim fabric as close to the stitching as possible. The stitching line simply serves as a guide line for trimming the fabric.

Step 2:
Cut a strip along the stretchiest grain of your fabric for the binding. Calculate the width required by adding 2x binding depth + 2x seam allowance and maybe a smidge extra to allow for turn of cloth. Make the length a little more than the neckline edge. The excess length can be trimmed off. Press in half lengthwise. Stitch one long edge of the binding to the neckline, right sides facing each other using your desired seam allowance. Apply a slight tension to the binding when need to stretch it.

Step 3:
Flip binding over the raw neckline edge. The crease in the binding will be the finished edge of the neckline.

Step 4:
Press seam allowances towards the binding.

Step 5:
Pin the binding so that the creased edge sits at the finished neckline edge and the binding overlaps the stitching line on the back. Stitch in the ditch from the right side to secure the back of the binding.

Step 6:
Carefully trim off the excess binding close to the stitching line. It is fine to leave this edge raw in a knit that does not unravel. This creates a nice neat and not too bulky binding.

Step 7:
Trim off any extra length of binding not required. Sew that final shoulder seam, carefully aligning the edges of the binding at the neckline. Finish off the seam allowances as usual.

Step 8:
If overlocking this seam, I thread the tails back through the stitching to leave it neat and secure. I then stitch the seam allowance down on the binding only to prevent it peaking out and looking unsightly. As you can see in my example I have done a terrible job in matching the width of the binding at the join. I think I can get away with it here as it sort of blends into the black motif pattern of the fabric. A true perfectionist would unpick and redo this but I quite honestly, couldn't be bothered.

I hope I have explained this so it makes sense.

Happy Sewing


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Style Arc Mila Designer Dress

Style Arc Mila Designer Dress
This is a stylish design that is also quick and easy to sew. Style Arc's description: "Use your creativity to make this dress your own.  The flattering bodice seam allows you to colour block or use different textures to suit your individual style. This is a simple pull on dress with a slight cocoon shape that is so simple to make but will look amazing once done." I can't argue with that.

Style Arc Mila Designer Dress
If you are experiencing deja vue, you are right. I have used the left over knit from my Style Arc Rae Tunic for the bodice in my Style Arc Mila Designer Dress. The skirt is a crepe knit in a coordinating blue that I picked up from Spotlight. The colours didn't photograph exactly right and I assure you the skirt is blue and not purple as it appears in the photos.

Made up in a knit, this dress really is like wearing secret pyjamas. The subtle cocoon shape skims over the body, hiding any lumps and bumps and is just so comfortable.

I cut my usual size 12 with no alterations except for using a knit binding for the neckline instead of the facings provided. The length is a little longer than I usually wear but it got the hubby's tick of approval so I didn't shorten it.

I used my new cover stitch to finish off the hems, even changing the thread to blue for the skirt hem. I find if I position the raw edge directly under the stitching it goes all wonky because one needle is stitching through two layers of fabric plus the Bondaweb, and the other needle is only stitching through one layer of fabric. Any suggestions for how to overcome this issue would be most welcome.

I used a single knit binding on the neckline. This is fast becoming my favourite neckline finish for knits as it is less bulky than other bindings and always turns out so neat.

The trickiest part of sewing this dress is getting a nice sharp point at the centre front. I struggled to achieve this in the knit fabric as it all seemed to stretch out to a gentle curve when I sewed this seam. I imagine it would be more precise in a woven fabric. I top stitched the seam allowance up towards the bodice as this is the direction it wanted to lay. The crepe was quite heavy and this extra line of stitching gave it a little more support.

I'm pretty happy with how this dress turned out. It is a great pattern to experiment with some colour blocking too.

Happy Sewing


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Style Arc Rae Tunic

Style Arc Rae Tunic
I chose this lovely Poly/Spandex knit from Knitwit to try out the Style Arc Rae Tunic. I love a good tunic and I have been wanting to try out the cold shoulder trend for a while now, so this pattern ticked all the boxes for me.

Style Arc Rae Tunic
Suggested fabrics are crepe, silk or even a knit. That makes this a very versatile pattern. I dispensed with the button and loop back neck closure, as it was not required. The tunic slips easily over your head (in a knit, anyway).

I cut my usual size 12, with no alterations, but in hindsight I probably should have done a forward shoulder adjustment. The tunic is quite loose fitting and skims nicely over any lumpy bits.

I like the length of the tunic...plenty of backside coverage. I am wearing it with my Style Arc Elle's in white stretch bengaline, made ages ago. This tunic only takes 85cm of 148cm wide fabric (sizes 4-16, slightly more in the larger sizes). You must have a seam at the centre back to squeeze it out of this yardage though.

Application of Bondaweb to hems
I have found when working with these slinky poly/spandex knits, the application of Bondaweb to the hems assists in stabilising the area and results in perfect stitching. I also used Bondaweb in the shoulder seams as I wanted that extra stability for the top stitching.

Sewing knits with my walking foot.
My walking foot also helps enormously when sewing with knits. It's great to learn all these little tricks and see the quality of your sewing improve. 

Loving the cold shoulder feature and it's perfectly bra friendly too. I used a knit binding turned completely to the inside, and top stitched, to finish off the neckline.

Another great feature of the Rae Tunic is the curved hem.

This photo shows the real shape of the tunic with the cut on sleeves. After wearing this to work today, I can report that it is very comfortable and I enjoyed wearing it. I have two pieces of rayon purchased recently with this pattern in mind. It will be interesting to see how it compares in a woven fabric to this one in a knit.

Happy sewing