Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Burda knit dress & using tiny ribbon pieces

All parents of school-going children should be prepared for the 'colour' days that happen in schools which are often for fundraising. There are red days to support county teams, blue days for autisim awareness, green days for our national Saint and last week we had a yellow day for cancer support. I don't normally sew for each colour day, but this time I was glad of the excuse to take a break from communion dress sewing.

This girls dress is from the current issue of Burdastyle magazine 4/15 no.136. Every month there are a few children's patterns in the magazine and I have always liked their sizing and fit. This dress was no different. I graded up a size to 134, just to allow for some growing room, but the dress would have still fit well.




It's an interesting design, with the neck facing applied to the outside. It is also clearly well-designed as the facing fit beautifully and I love how neatly the shoulder seams align. This would be straightforward on a woven fabric, but usually much more difficult on a knit fabric.

Though I used a stable knit fabric (not very stretchy) I didn't want the shoulders to get stretched with wear. The best way to do this is to stabilise the shoulder seams with interfacing which is hidden. I took a different approach by choosing to make the stabiliser more obvious and picked some janemeans stitched ribbon.

The green stitched ribbon is placed under the shoulder seam while it is being sewn, and a second line of stitching is sewn along the ribbon and seam edge. Once the ribbon and seam are pressed it forms a neat finish to the seam as well as preventing the shoulder seam from stretching and sagging. Of course this is also a perfect way to use those tiny pieces of beautiful ribbon leftover from bigger projects.


I altered the pattern by not including a back opening, and not adding neckline and pocket piping. The instructions recommended sewing the side seams and then inserting the sleeves but it was much quicker to sew each sleeve to it's armhole and the sew each sleeve seam and side seam all at once.


I just had a day to sew the dress so unusually didn't consult my daughter on the fabric and the pattern, but she was thrilled to have a yellow dress and got very involved (obviously, I suppose!) in picking out the fringe and neckline trims.


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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Handmade Clothes for Girls: A Sewing Pattern Book Review

One of my favourite Japanese Sewing Book authors/pattern designers is Yuki Araki. I have 3 of her books in Japanese (one which was translated into French) and previously sewed from 2 of her pattern books here and here.


Recently one of her books 'Sew Sweet: Handmade Clothes for Girls' (that I happened not to have in Japanese) has been translated into English. Tuttle Books sent me a copy to review.





Though I always love the pictures In Japanese pattern books, I usually have to skip straight to the pattern instructions as it is these diagrams and line drawings that I understand, despite the language barrier.





With this book it was a treat to finally be able to read Yuki Araki's words and understand her designing and sewing process. The patterns in the book are interspersed with little personal notes about sewing or her daughters, and being able to read and understand these added immensely to my enjoyment of the book.






Sew Sweet is a sewing pattern book with 22 patterns (as well as extra variations) for dresses, camisoles, blouses, bags, a hat, a jacket, shorts/leggings, skirts, and even two tops for women.






The layout of the book follows that of most Japanese pattern books. The pictures of the designs are at the front and the pattern instructions with clear, detailed diagrams are towards the back. The centre of the book includes general information or 'Sewing Notes' on sizing, tracing patterns, fabric layouts, marking and cutting, as well as sewing tips. There is also a picture tutorial for one of the patterns which includes details on how to construct a strip placket and stand-up collar.



The sizes in this pattern book are approximately from 18months to 6 years. (There's a very useful size chart on the finishedgarment blog which compares sizes across children's patterns, though Japanese patterns are not specifically included)




As part of my review of Sew Sweet, I sewed one of the patterns from the book, pattern 'C' which is a double-layered skirt with a waist casing and a ribbon casing. It is one of two patterns in the book that are not on the pattern sheets, and I was able to cut it out easily by marking the included measurements on the fabric. All the other patterns are easily identifiable on the pattern sheets and need to be traced.



To coordinate with the white/pink spotty fabric, I chose a chocolate and pink ribbon from janemeans. The ribbon casing is not sewn into the waistband on the inside which means the ribbon colour can be easily changed whenever the wearer wishes!

My daughter can't wait for warmer weather so that she can wear this, though it looks like she'll have to wait a few more months.




(Tuttle Publishing sent me this pattern book free. All opinions are my own. I have been happily sewing from Japanese language pattern books since 2009)




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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Handmade Bags - A Pattern Book Review

Having sewn small bags from Japanese Pattern books previously, I was delighted when this new English translation of a book of bag patterns from Tuttle Publishing arrived.

Emiko Takahashi's book, Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics, has 25 individual full-sized patterns from which 60 bags can be sewn. There are easy patterns for tote bags, bags with zips and pockets, shopping basket bags, and purses with clasps.





The information in the book is very detailed, even including a section on the different types of interfacing and wadding to be used in each bag. All patterns have to be traced and are in both inches and centimetres. Seam allowances (all illustrated) have to be added when cutting.





There are various types of straps and handles shown, and 2 pages of sewing basics (sewing and hem stitches and seam finishes) are also presented. This book of bag patterns provides all the information needed for handstitching each bag.


I had a momentary lapse of reason when I considered handsewing a bag, but thankfully that passed quickly when I realised that the pattern instructions can be easily adapted to machine sewing!





The bag I picked to sew was the Reversible Full-circle Bag, mainly because there was a completely different use that I planned for it.





It is a lined circular bag with loops (or cord carriers) at intervals around the edges. The 16 individual loops are sewn from folded rectangles of fabric. As a change to the pattern I used lengths of red and green stitched ribbon from Jane Means. Using ribbon made sewing the bag much, much faster.



The final bag was sewn in a floral cotton fabric with a red satin contrast fabric from my stash. As the bag is reversible, either of these fabrics can be on the outside. The bag straps are from a length of cord with is threaded through the ribbon loops.






And the alternative use that I planned for it?

Well that caused many puzzled looks and hilarity when I told my family that it was a skirt for a tree, they really thought that it was a joke, until they saw it in place and they were very impressed!

I got the idea from similar patterns I have seen on the Internet. If made larger, this can be used as a floor mat and then gathered up to help tidy away toys, for example.







The book is designed for beginners which I would mostly agree with. There are no cutting layouts, and though they are not necessary for sewing the bags, they make layout and cutting a easier for anyone with little sewing experience. However 6 of the bags are illustrated in more detail with photo tutorials, and all the illustration have the usual excellent detail associated with Japanese sewing patterns.

There are more patterns that I plan on sewing from this book. One in particular is the purse pattern (lower left above) which includes instructions on how to use a purse frame. The clear illustrations make it look much easier than I thought it would be.




(Tuttle Publishing sent me this pattern book free. All opinions are my own. I have been happily sewing from Japanese language pattern books since 2009)










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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sleeping Beauty - A Costume for the Panto.

As Christmas (aka pantomime season) and my daughters birthday are close together, her godmother takes her to a pantomime in Cork, our nearest city. As part of this treat, my daughter likes to wear the costume of the main character. So in the past I've sewn an Alice dress, a Cinderella dress (not blogged), and this year it was Sleeping Beauty's turn.


Pink is the colour most associated with Aurora/Sleeping Beauty's dress, but in the film and books, she wears a different dress before she 'falls asleep'. Though my daughter hasn't quite left the 'pink phase'! she didn't take much convincing when I showed her pictures of the other dress worn by Aurora.
An online search for images of the dress, led me to pick View 2 of this vintage Advance pattern 5816 that I already had, because of its v-shaped bodice and skirt.
The main additions the skirt pattern needed was length, and extra fabric added to the centre front and centre back to create pleats. I also curved the top of the bodice at the front and back armholes and cut a centre front seam so that I could create a lace-up bodice.
The sleeves and upper bodice were adapted from Butterick 5890. I recently used this pattern for the Elsa Coronation dress which I sewed for Halloween. I had to draft the white collar myself using a flexible ruler, then measuring the neckline curve once I had sewn the shoulders of the front and back bodices. I've never drafted a collar before, so was surprised and pleased that it lay flat and looked so good.




The dress turned out exactly as we both imagined, especially the centre front which has eyelets and is laced up with narrow grosgrain ribbon.

The fabrics are all from Vibes and Scribes, a well-stocked fabric, wool and haberdashery shop in Cork that now delivers online. The top bodice is cream cotton jersey, the main bodice is a soft-textured black polyester, and the skirt is a medium-weight sateen which was the last piece on the bolt.


Though it seemed like I was cobbling together parts of patterns, and making up pieces and instructions as I went along, the dress worked and most importantly she was delighted with it.





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Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Girl's Winter Coat and a Craftsy Class Review


Most years, I sew a winters coat for my daughter. When Vogue pattern V9043 was released by the McCalls Pattern Company this year, I knew it was 'the one' for this winter.

Then, a little serendipity .... On Twitter Steffani Linceum, a tutor who blogs at Stitchcoach,was looking for a few people to review her Craftsy class on sewing the adult-sized version V9040 and I jumped at the chance. I watched all sections of the class almost back-to-back, and loved it.
Not doing things by half, I decided to use the class to help me sew my daughter's coat, before reviewing it.

The class 'Inside Vogue Patterns' covers everything about sewing a winter coat.
Basting interlining to the main fabric was a first for me and the teacher shows how to do this so that it won't bulge or bubble under the main fabric. I used a lightweight wool fabric for the interlining, though barely had enough for the front bodice pieces as evident in the picture below!


I added velvet piping in the pockets (this is only in the child's pattern, so I didn't have Steffani's calm teaching to guide me for this part!)


The lining is a pink cotton, and I added 2 extra inside pockets which are not on the child's pattern, but there is a pattern piece for one of the pockets included as part of the class.


The sleeve linings are white silk, to make the coat easier to put on and because I did the same for my Minoru jacket and love it.


The back hem was noticeably longer than the front when my daughter tried on the coat, so that needed a deeper hem than indicated in the pattern.


The collar of the child's coat is beautifully designed and in 2 pieces. It is different to the adult coat, so I also missed the teacher's help with this part, though it worked fine just using the pattern instructions.


Finding buttons in a matching colour was difficult. We considered a contrasting colour, but nothing seemed right. Our local fabric store owner recommended covering buttons in velvet. It worked perfectly, more so because the pile of the fabric hides the dents I made while pressing the button parts together!


My favourite parts of the coat are the addition of fun smaller buttons on the inside of the coat to strengthen the hold of the outer buttons - suggested by the class teacher. My other favourite part is the addition of an inside pocket with pleated janemeans ribbon over the opening. In the Craftsy class, Steffani calls this a Chinese Wedding Pocket, and used folded pieces of bias binding for the edge. My daughter loved the idea of this 'secret' pocket and being able to find it easily without looking, simply by touching the ribbon. It made her feel like a secret agent!

Of everything I've sewn, I'm very proud of the work that has gone into this coat. The class, with all the tutor's hints and tips, made such a difference, more that I could have imagined. Despite sewing coats before, the guidance of a sewist with experience has helped me sew a much better quality coat. The advice on grading seams, creating a sleeve head, using interlining, allowing for 'turn of cloth' and many more topics are covered, and in a very straightforward manner by the teacher, who evidently has often used all the techniques that she is demonstrating.
There are some more details about the class on the tutor's blog, and it is also worth checking the reviews on Craftsy.
Now, if I could only be brave enough to sew the adult-sized version for myself ...... maybe for next winter!
(I received the Craftsy class for free, sewed a coat using the teaching and techniques from the class and reviewed the class based on my experience)


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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Details on Queen Elsa's Coronation Dress

In the film Frozen there is a lot of detailed Scandanavian, and in particular Norwegian, artwork known as rosemaling. This is most evident on Elsa's Coronation dress.

I considered a few options for decorating this dress, especially appliqué, or sewing on ribbon strips. However ironing appliqué on velvet would damage the pile, and sewing ribbon on a stretch fabric would be difficult and affect the drape of the dress. Initially, drawing the designs on the dress didn't seem the best idea. I looked at clips from the film again, and decided it was at least worth a try. I drew out the design on paper and drew it freehand on the velvet with fabric markers.

It really isn't perfect, but I think it worked much better than the other options and suited the fabric.

The dress is based on Butterick pattern 5980 View D (View B length) which I altered to add sleeves with v-shaped hems and narrowed the dress hem width. I chose this pattern because the seam lines reflected those of the dress in the film. All the inside seams are French seams, with the yoke sewn on the outside and covered with ribbon. 

The top part of the cape is based on the cape pattern from Oliver&S Little Things to Sew, dramatically shortened. The longer pleated part is based on my daughter's height. Her back width was tripled to allow enough fabric for the pleats.

I used organza ribbon for the orange accents on the dress, but used janemeans purple stitched ribbon for the inside  hem of the cape and used janemeans plum wired ribbon for the upper part. The decorations at the neckline on the black velvet were cut out from teal  wired janemeans ribbon.

There's not much more to add except that it's a total success and worth all the work .... you can almost guess the line of the song from the poses in these pictures. The dress induces bouts of random singing 'Let it go' with very demonstrative 'I'm free' while throwing off the cape! 
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Free Tickets to Knitting & Stitching Show Dublin & Harrogate

22/10/2014 10.30pm
Edited to add: 8 names from comments/emails were entered and put into the very technological hat! 

The 3 winners of a pair of tickets each are: Fionnuala, Maeve and Jennibean.

Your tickets will be posted once I get your addresses.

Thank you for entering. 


Original post:
The Knitting and Stitching show has been the highlight of October for me in the last few years. I generally go for fabric and some sewing supplies as well as the excellent exhibitions, but the show has something for all kinds of crafters.
This year I was delighted to be contacted by the organisers, offering complimentary tickets for a blog giveaway.
The show includes most textile related activities - 
 Cross stitch
 Dress-making
 Embroidery
 Felt-making
 Knitting and Crochet
 Lace-making
 Patchwork and Quilting
 Spinning, Weaving and Dyeing
 Tapestry
as well as
 Beadwork
 Card-making
 Jewellery-making

Scroll down for further details about the show. More information is also available at the Knitting and Stitching Show website.


Win a pair of complimentary tickets to the show in Dublin, Ireland or Harrogate, UK - valid for entry Thurs, Fri & Sun (Saturday not included).

3 pairs to give away.

Event Details: The Knitting & Stitching Show at RDS, Simonscourt, Dublin, Ireland.

Dates: Thursday October 30th to Sunday November 2nd 2014

Opening TimesThursday/ Friday: 10am to 5.30pm / Sunday: 10am to 5.00pm.


Event Details: The Knitting & Stitching Show at HIC, Harrogate, UK

Dates: Thursday November 20th to Sunday November 23rd 2014

Opening TimesThursday 10am to 7pm; Friday: 10am to 5.30pm; Sunday: 10am to 5.00pm.

To Enter:

Leave a comment with contact details or email in the comment section. No need to follow, unless you really want to!


Contact me with by email with your address.


Closing date: Wednesday 22nd October 10pm. (To allow tickets to be posted in time for the Dublin show)

The 3 winners will be contacted by email and Tickets will be posted once I have address details.

Details about the Knitting and Stitching Show in Dublin:

Needles at the ready for The Great Irish PicKnit!
Join the PicKnit at the Knitting & Stitching Show, RDS, Dublin, Oct 30th 2nd Nov

Thousands of knitting enthusiasts are invited to pack their needles and wool for The GreatIrish PicKnit which features at the Knitting & Stitching Show in the RDS, Dublin, fromOctober 30th November 2nd

The show organisers are predicting that The PicKnit, a social gathering involving knitting andfood, will become the next big pastime in Ireland’s towns and cities, saying it is the perfectrecipe for a darn good time!

More than 25,000 visitors are expected to attend the show, which will feature a uniquecombination of inspirational galleries, workshops and exhibitors selling everything fromstunning fabrics, wools and threads, through to sewing machines, patterns and books.

A new attraction will be The PicKnit, brought to Dublin by the UK Hand Knitting Association.Under the theme of ‘Knit One, Hook One and Pass it On’, visitors to The Picknit can learn,create and share their knitting and crochet skills with other visitors. There will be free one-to-one knitting and crochet tuition for beginners, and a chance for the more adventurous toexperiment with some exciting new designs.

Helen Marriott, The Knitting & Stitching Show, said: "For decades, knitting has been asociable pastime with knitters happily chatting over coffee and yarn. PicKnits takes that ideato the next level, combining a love of food with a love of knitting, stitching and craft.Knitting PicKnits don’t have to be big formal occasions though - all you need are needles,some snacks, a few friends and some space. Importantly, Knitting PicKnits, like the onecoming up in the RDS, help keep the traditional skills of knitting and stitching alive."

Thanks to celebrity knitters such as Cara Delevingne, Ryan Gosling, Kate Moss and Lily Allen,organisers have noticed a huge increase in interest in knitting and sewing. "Knitting andsewing have both been around for centuries, but celebrity knitters and sewers are helping to bring the hobby and craft to a whole new audience." added Helen Marriott.

Visitors to the show, which is Ireland’s largest textile and craft event, can also look forwardto:

  • Artists at work in the ‘Artists in Action Studio’

    Learning a new skill at one of the 100s of ‘Learning Curve’ workshops

    • Professionally-curated galleries including one featuring the 1913 Lockout Tapestry,designed by Cathy Henderson and artist Robert Ballagh

    • An exhibition marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One

    • An inaugural display by the students from the Cork Crawford College of Art and


    • An exhibition of new textile artwork exploring relationships betweencommemoration and memory by Nigel Cheney of NCAD

    • A Design & Crafts Council of Ireland exhibition, called Entwined Memories

    • ‘Explorations’ by the Irish Patchwork Society.

    • 116 hours of workshops ranging from Beginners’ Crochet to Embellishing Bed Linento Sewing a Vintage Clutch Bag.

      Visitors will also be able to browse and buy specialist supplies and ‘hard-to-find’craftmaterials from more than 200 retailers.

      Tickets for the four day show at the RDS Simonscourt in Dublin are now on sale throughwww.theknittingandstitchingshow.com/Dublin. Advance tickets cost €14 for adults, withconcession prices available on-line.

      Twitter: @KnitStitchRDS #KnitnStitch

Good Luck!






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Monday, October 13, 2014

Fabric Search for Elsa's Coronation Dress

If it's Elsa, it must be Frozen! We were late to the Frozen party in this house, and finally bought the film during the summer holidays. It was watched on the few wet afternoons we had this summer, my 7yo daughter & 9yo son loved it, but the rest of us could be found openly watching & enjoying it too!


The most popular costume from the film is Elsa's shimmery blue Ice Queen/Snow Queen dress, but my daughter has her heart set on the coronation dress. There are excellent and detailed pictures on this blog -Arendellekingdom

Some research on the film and that dress has thrown up some interesting links. One of the most fascinating is from an illustrator on the film, Brittney Lee, who blogged about her design process. She also provided information on the interesting ’rosemaling' designs in the dress fabrics and throughout the film.

There is also an excellent interview with the costume designer, Jean Gillmore, from Frozen on the Tyranny of Style blog.

It was very interesting to discover that many of the illustrations of the costumes are based on the properties of fabrics from which the dresses in Scandanavian countries would have be sewn. For example the weight of a fabric would affect its drape and movement. This is reflected in the animation in the film.



With all this inside knowledge, I searched for fabric online which would be suitable for a child's costume, and accurately reflect the costumes in the film.

The Coronation dress in the film seemed like a wool fabric, but that would be the most impractical fabric for a child's costume. Then I considered velvet, which would drape and move in a similar manner to wool.Many velvet dress fabrics available online are polyester and stretch velvets or velours, which would probably be most suitable. but I was looking for a fabric with more weight, so was drawn to using cotton velvet, which is expensive to buy in Ireland.



It took me ages to find the kind of fabric I wanted, either it was too stretchy, too expensive, wrong colour.....

After a very thorough search, I eventually found the specific colours for the coronation dress in a cotton mix velvet fabric from Fjøelner in Denmark. It turned out to be the perfect weight and was delivered extremely quickly.


This is where I'm at....


I already had black velvet and a suitable pattern Butterick 5980 (ViewD with longer skirt and long sleeves), so the dress and the Cape have been sewn up. Now I just need to figure out how to add the floral/scrolling designs to the velvet on the dress!



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