Sunday, 17 July 2016

Heather: Colette Macaron Take Two: Red Linen

Don't you just love it when you find a pattern that you really love and you just want to make one in every colour? A few weeks ago I posted about my first make of the Colette Macaron pattern and I've been bouncing around ideas for other combinations ever since. 

A few weeks ago I picked up two metres of irresistible geranium-red linen/viscose mix fabric from Fabric Corner. My original plan was to make a smart skirt for work and maybe a pretty blouse to go with it for summer with some coordinating fabric. Then the next plan was to make a really smart shift dress and line it with some plain red cotton. Then the new plan was to make a shirt dress for lounging about in the summer. You get the idea- I was kinda struggling with this one. 

After returning to the shop on Wednesday afternoon (not shopping, honest) I had a flash of inspiration when I spotted some coordinating red leafy print fabric  (well I might have bought that...) which I thought would go perfectly with the red linen to make another Macaron Dress... but it didn't. 

And so finally, I resorted to my stash (which is probably where I should have started) and found the leftover chiffon from a dress I made for my Mum a couple of years ago. And it works perfectly.

In terms of construction, I used largely the same sizing from my previous post, just adding a little extra width across the seat for comfort, and adding 2 inches to the hem (following my own advice for a change!). The linen was lovely to work with thanks to the viscose mix and, remarkably, frayed very little during the stitching process which was a bonus. As you can see from the pictures, though, it does still have the creasing properties of linen!

The chiffon was quite hard to work with (if you are aware of a chiffon that isnt, do let me know!) and I don't feel it does the neckline justice as it's not holding the sweetheart shape from the bodice firmly like the cotton did in my previous attempt. I feel a bit like the garment is relying on fitting at the waist to stop the whole thing falling down. With hindsight I perhaps should have used two layers of the chiffon for strength or perhaps cut the yoke section a little shorter to allow for give (the chiffon grew about 1/2" over night once it had been cut). Either way I'm happy with the finished garment and just being picky!

I made the same adjustments to the back too, once again achieving a great fit.

My next version of this dress is going to be a navy check/denim combo for Autumn. Look out for that one later in the year!

The linen-mix fabric used in this post was kindly provided by Fabric Corner Lincoln, based at The Craftea Sewing Bee Shop, 22-24 Melville Street Lincoln, and at Lincoln's Historic Central Market.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Heather: Abstract Date Night Dress

Summer is coming! Well at least it is in my sewing room, thanks to this fabulous abstract print date night dress, which promises to bring the sunshine with it*. For my latest White Tree Fabrics project I decided to choose an item that would fill some of the gaps in my casual wardrobe. Followers of my instagram will know that I love a smart, fitted dress for work, and a well-tailored shift dress is my ultimate wardrobe staple, so I wanted to step out of my comfort zone a little. Plus, the Abstract Print Cotton Poplin fabric particularly appealed to my more ditsy side! (come one, we've all got one.)

*This fabric claims no meteorological influence... more's the pity!

Date Night Dress & Slip by April Rhodes in Abstract Pink Cotton Poplin both from White Tree Fabrics

Now I'll confess, I hadn't heard of April Rhodes patterns before I browsed the White Tree site. In fact, White Tree carries a whole host of indie patterns and it's great to find such a comprehensive UK stockist. I was particularly drawn to the floppy sleeves on this dress, but in fact I was pleasantly surprised with this pattern overall. The pattern pieces are printed on a fairly heavy paper, designed so that you trace your own pattern from it, and sizing is from XS to XL. As you will have read (hopefully!) in my previous blog posts I usually have to grade a pattern to fit my slightly-smaller-than-average bust and more-than-slightly-larger-than-average bum. For this pattern I went for XS at the bust through to M at the hips, but then tapered back in to an XS at the hem to avoid looking like a (glamorous) lampshade. 

The instructions have photo illustrations, in colour, in a little booklet, and really well thought out instructions meaning that this already super-easy make went together like a dream!

This dress is actually constructed of two garments; the outer dress layer and a coordinating slip underneath. The slip is constructed of two identical pieces, whilst the outer garment has front, back and sleeve pieces, all of which are constructed using french seams. Now, I'm not a french seam fan. I know, I know, it's proper sewing and they make clothes look really nice on the inside and they stop the seams from fraying... but I've owned an overlocker for over 10 years, and who's got the time to stitch everything twice...?! Anyhow, in the interests of a true pattern review I overcame my general disdain for the technique and (following the instructions) did probably the best french seams of my life... "Hello, my name is Heather and I'm a french seam convert".

The majority of the outer garment constructed, and hems finished during the process rather than left to the end, I had the task of making some bias binding to use both as a facing and on the slip. I've made my own continuous bias several times thanks to this really handy free bias binding calculator from So Sew Easy. Who knew you could get almost two metres of binding from a 12" square remnant?! Cotton poplin makes particularly good binding as it has just enough 'give' to bend around the curves, but enough weight to be easily controlled during the stitching process. 

Bias binding detail on the slip.
The slip can just be seen under the arms. it is an integral part of the garment- don't skip it!
This pattern is really intended for a drapy fabric, but I really think the 100% cotton works!. The dress is called the 'Date Night Dress' but the cheerful fabric creates a totally different look. It makes me want to grab a stripy towel and head off to find the nearest candy floss stand at the beach! It's going to be ideal for that really hot summer that's just around the corner...

Happy sewing everyone!


 The pattern and fabrics in this post were kindly provided by White Tree Fabrics. 
If you fancy your own sewing challenge, here's a little something for you. Just enter the code SIY challenge for 20% off and free P&P when you order from

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Bridie: June's Sewing Round Up

A round up of all the things I've made in June (and a little of July). I hope you enjoy.

Here are all the things I've been making in June (and a tiny bit of July). Hope you enjoy, feel free to ask me any questions or let me know what you think.
I mentioned where I got these fabrics from in the Vlog but here are the links I promised.

Craftea Sewing Bee their website is 

but check out their Facebook page as they are constantly adding new stock on their and are really quick to respond if you need help.

The pattern I used for my pyjamas was Simplicity 1502

Heather: Colette Macaron Summer Spots

Back in May Bridie and I bumped into the lovely Lucy from Sew Essential at The Big Simplicity Blog Meet in Manchester. Sew Essential is a comprehensive and easy to browse fabric and haberdashery site with a huge range of both dressmaking and crafting patterns, from indie brands as well as the big boys; high quality dressmaking fabrics (at prices that don't trigger a call from the bank) and even sewing machines and accessories (basically they have all the things and I want one of everything...).

If you're not a follower of the independent pattern circuit, Colette Patterns produce "Sewing patterns that teach" and have been on my wish list for a while. They have some unusual shapes and styles, and even better they seem to be designed to fit real people- with bums and everything! The pattern packets themselves are rather lovely too. Each package contains a detailed instruction booklet and a multi-sized pattern which is printed onto tissue- much preferred to the heavier paper that is becoming very popular. The pattern is stored in a special pouch in the back of the packet, which is stitched up along the edge to form a booklet to keep everything together. I can just imagine a selection of these sitting on my shelf like tiny books!

Already in love with the pattern, a quick look on Pinterest reassured me that the pattern would lend itself to almost any combination of fabrics, so I was rather excited to find this 100% cotton poplin fun printed spot fabric I could team up with some plain white cotton from my stash. I washed the fabric before using and there was no shrinkage or colour run, though obviously being 100% cotton it did need a good steamy press once it was dry!
Pale Blue multi-spot print cotton poplin fabric from Sew Essential.  
Checking my measurements, I decided to cut the pattern graded from a size 0 at the bust, size 4 at the waist through to a size 8 at the hip. Now before you start worrying for my health, I should point out that the size 0 on these patterns is not in any way indicative of high street dress sizes. The 0 measures B33 W25 H35 which is much more like a size 8-10 from one of the major pattern companies.

Following the instructions (who is this girl?) I created the front and back bodice sections first. The pattern calls for the bodice sections to be turned under 1.5cm along the top edge, positioned over the front and back yoke pieces and then top stitched together. For both the front and back sections I tacked the bodice sections in place and checked for fit before committing my final stitches. The front bodice fitted really nicely, but the back ended up being almost 2 inches too long in the back. Luckily this pattern rather lends itself to alterations- you can just see the stitching line in the picture below showing the final position of the bodice back section. 

The skirt front has two pockets concealed into a slashed dart behind the outer pleats (sounds technical, right?). I used the spot fabric for the pocket back (most likely to be seen) and a polyester lining for the inner half to reduce bulk over the tummy. Whilst I've constructed plenty of pockets before I found the particular instructions for these pockets to be the most clear and easy to follow of any of I've tried previously. The pockets went in perfectly first time with no hassle. 

Once the pockets were constructed, a concealed zip was inserted into the side seam. The sleeves are constructed from two pieces sewn right sides together and pressed to create a smooth sleeve hem. And there we have it; Hey Macaron-a...!

Pleased to have taken the extra time to get the back fitting really nicely!

Here are some tips for you, if you're thinking of having a go at the Macaron dress:

  • Don't be frightened to grade the pattern across several sizes to get a better fit
  • Personally I found the shoulders to be very narrow on the size 0 despite the fit being excellent elsewhere. Check the measurements before you cut!
  • This pattern would totally work without sleeves, or you could lengthen the sleeve to just above the elbow for a more formal look. 
  • I'm only 5'3" and this dress sits well above the knee. You may want a longer version!
Personally, I wouldn't change a thing about my dress! I'm already planning a winter version with some checked wool and denim. In fact, I think I'll have one in every colour!

The fabric and patterns used in this blog were kindly provided by Sew Essential. Browse the site at