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A Somerset Dress Hack

PAID POST | This article was originally written by Susan Young as part of the Lamazi blogger team and the fabric was given to Sue by Lamazi fabrics in return for a review for them. After seeing the article I approached Sue and asked if I could share it here and she kindly agreed! I have paid Sue for her time, skills and effort.

As you all know I do enjoy a good pattern hack!

And with a very different looking Christmas around the corner this year I was delighted when this beauty by Susan Young popped up on Instagram recently.

Sue has made a glorious dress hack of The Somerset t-shirt pattern, complete with extra volume on those bishop sleeves. Sue made her dress in this stretch jersey cord velvet from Lamazi fabrics , which is lovely and soft, and perfect for a spot of smart-looking lounging, but will still be relevant to your wardrobe for lots of post-Christmas wear.

“Whilst I love a complex make to really get my teeth into I felt this wasn’t a garment which warranted lots of time. Making a special Christmas once-worn garment wasn’t appropriate any longer so I wanted something quite simple but adaptable and for that reason I’ve picked the Somerset T-shirt by Maven Patterns.

Sue Young

“I have to say that I’m really happy with this dress because it ticks all the boxes I wanted it to. It’s comfortable but it looks Christmassy, it looks great with opaque tights, heels and jewellery, but also with boots, a chunky belt, a roll neck top underneath for extra warmth or a cosy scarf…and did I mention it’s comfortable! #secretpyjamas It also has the advantage of rolling up and going in the corner of a bag or suitcase and coming back out again not needing a press. Bonus!! ” – Sue

“I’ve dressed it down with an ancient knitted gilet plus a wide belt, long boots and my much loved Alexander McQueen scarf ” – Sue

And it’s always good to consider the future wear of any of our makes #notjustforchristmas!

A quick little re-style and Sue is ready to go for the New Year and beyond.

You can find all the details of exactly how Sue created her Somerset dress HERE.

It’s a very comprehensive post – Sue covers

  • how to add more volume to the bishop sleeve

  • how she adjusted the t-shirt pattern to a dress

  • how she fitted the dress on herself

  • cutting and sewing tips for the stretch corded fabric

A huge thank you to Sue for sharing her pattern hack with us, & for letting me share here with you, I hope it inspires you with your makes!

 

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The Wendy Smock | the frilled dress hack

WENDY SMOCK HACK | I did a little hacking of our Wendy Smock pattern and, if I do say so myself, made a rather splendid dress! 

This was actually a salvage job from a previously failed hack and that poor thing has lain, neglected, in the pile of doom all lockdown. But then the sun came out and the UK got hot. And nothing fits anymore (I’m talking body and mood, here! hello menopause, lockdown and well…cake and beer) so I needed a new plan. And voila…she’s now a cool frilled hem dress that’s perfect for the heat!

There’s no actual tutorial just these ramblings…it really is just a case of making our Wendy pattern longer and attaching a frill, but check out our French Dart Frill Sleeve Hack tutorial if you are looking for a little more in the way of detail – it’s exactly the same process just on a different scale.

You’ll need to make a few decisions |

  • how long you’d like your dress
  • how deep you’d like your frill
  • how full you’ll like your frill
  • I’ve included my measurements as a guide but I’m only 5’2″ so bear that in mind. This dress finishes about 5″ above my ankles so adjust to your height/needs/desires! 

PATTERN |

First up: lengthen the bodice pattern.

  • overall length – frill depth = amount to add + seam allowances

I added about 5cm extra to the length of the bodice patterns and added 1cm SA to attach the frill. Please remember I am short! And keep in mind we are still going to add more length with the frill. Don’t over-complicate this bit, I literally just extended the side seams and added on the extra length. Do take the time to check your side seams are the same length and that they will create a smooth hemline when you join them.

FRILL | I didn’t actually make a pattern I just chalked it straight on my fabric as the frill is just made up of 2 rectangles, one for the front one for the back.

DEPTH | You’ll need to decide how deep and how full you would like your frill to be.

I made my frill to finish 33cm deep and added 1cm SA to attach to the body and 2cm hem allowance so I could turn it twice and have a cleanly finished hem, so I cut the rectangle 36cm deep.

WIDTH | The width of your pattern will dictate how gathered your frill is. I decided on a gathering ratio of 2:1. That just means whatever the hem width of the front or back panel is, I doubled it for the frill width. My front had a hem width of 65cm; 65cm x 2 = 130cm + 1cm each end for the seam allowance = my rectangle was cut 132cm wide.

You can change the ratio to suit you and your fabric, a bit more or a bit less gathering to work with the amount of fabric you have will be fine! If you are short of fabric you can join several rectangles together to make your frill.  I just made the same size for the front and back panels as they weren’t very different in size and I was very short of fabric!

GRAINLINE | I cut the frill across the piece of fabric so it is on the same grain line as the bodice. If you have a plain fabric you can cut the frill with the longest length parallel to the selvedge, but be aware if you have a printed fabric it may look odd. 

CONSTRUCTION | remember to press everything as you sew.

It’s all very straight forward – make your Wendy as usual and when you get to the hemming stage, just stick a frill on the bottom!

  • Run gathering stitches across the top of each rectangle. I did 2 rows, but do 3 if you prefer, and I gathered each rectangle in 2 sections so I could gather half a rectangle at a time to make it more manageable. 
  • With right sides of the fabric together, join the frills at the side seam. Neaten and press seams open.
  • Hem the frill.
  • Attach frill to the body with a 1cm seam allowance. Neaten the seam together and press upwards away from the frill.
  • Waft around the house/park/shop at whatever is this week’s acceptably social distance.
  • If you need a little more frill info see our French Dart Frill Sleeve Hack tutorial as the method is the same.
  • I decided later to run my dress in a little at the sides and our High Neck Smock tutorial has instructions to help you!

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted a couple of other differences. I used a wider elastic, 2.5cm wide, at the cuff and I can confirm it’s quite comfy! And the neckline of this Wendy is different too as I have elasticated her rather than finished with the usual binding. This was actually the first method I tried out for Wendy at the toile stage many moons ago before settling on the binding method, but I think that will need to be a whole different tutorial!

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A Most Delightful Pattern Hack

The French Dart Shift | Button Back Tutorial

The French Dart Shift is possibly the most versatile pattern you will ever sew with and I have another little pattern hack to share with you today!

 

I originally made the Indigo Moon spot sample for The Festival of Quilts as I wanted to showcase the Corozo buttons that Mr.M had sourced. Corozo is a natural, sustainable product that works in harmony with the rainforests of Equador, and as it is an excellent alternative to plastic buttons so we felt it was an important message to share.

The sample and the buttons proved to be very popular and there were lots of requests for a tutorial on adding a button placket. The buttons and buttonholes are functional, but you don’t need to undo them to get the top on and off. I’ve added the buttons down the back of the garment, you could just as easily use these instructions and have them down the front instead. I’ve made this French Dart as a top but you could make a button through dress version, just be aware of how much ease you have in the hips and bum area – too little and your buttons and buttonholes may strain or pop open when you sit down! I made the top sleeveless – it was the height of summer here in England – you know that 3-day window where the sun shines consistently before normal British weather resumes when dressing involves sunglasses, factor 50, a cardigan and canoe, because who knows, but best be prepared?!  I made no alterations to the pattern to make it sleeveless, just left the sleeves off and bound the armholes.

| HABERDASHERY for a top|

For all sizes | 1.5m of 150cm wide fabric (you will have enough fabric to cut out short sleeves if you don’t want a sleeveless top).

Indigo sample | Indigo Moon Fabric, 7 Corozo buttons – 24 ligne (15mm) || white linen sample | the linen was found in Ikea bargain corner, 7 Agoya shell buttons in natural – 24 ligne (15mm)

TOOLS | French Dart pattern, paper, scissors, tape, buttons, lightweight interfacing, buttonhole foot, and the usual sewing stuff!

ABBREVIATIONS | CB: centre back | CF: centre front | WS: wrong side | WST: wrong side together | RST: right side together | RS: right side | SA: seam allowance

| THE PATTERN |

First, you’ll need to alter the pattern. As always when altering a pattern trace off a copy so your original stays intact (if you have the PDF version you can always print another). Copy the collar, back and front but don’t cut them out yet.

I left out the back darts to make it a slightly boxier shape.

Decide on your length. I made the CB finished length (the length when it’s all sewn up and not including any seam or hem allowance) 60 cm and added a hem allowance of 4cm (pattern length including hem and neck SA – 64.6cm). No need to overcomplicate this bit, I just measure up from the hem in several places and draw a new line before chopping off the length. The only things to be aware of are;

  1. make sure the new line intersects the CF and CB lines at right angles to stop weird pointy angles.
  2. make sure your side seams are the same length and run smoothly around the body, again to avoid weird pointy angles.

| ADDING THE BUTTON PLACKET |

 

Working on the BACK BODY of your copy pattern, mark the CB line in a red to make it clear (the original ‘cut to the fold line’ is the CB).

Draw a line 1.5cm away and parallel to the CB line, creating a button placket. This will be the folded edge.

Draw another line 4.5cm away and parallel to the fold line, this makes the back facing.

*I used 15mm buttons. If you are using bigger/smaller buttons you can adjust the width of the placket and facing to accommodate your buttons and buttonholes.

When the facing folds back into place it should be the same shape at the neck and the hem as the main body. Fold the facing along the fold line so it sits in place, pin to hold and cut through both layers of paper. Make sure the neck and hem intersect the fold and CB at right angles. When you unfold the facing it will be exactly the same shape as the body. Make a notch in your pattern on the fold line at the neck and hem.

Fold up the hem in the same way before cutting out to make sure it is the same shape as the body when folded into place.

| COLLAR | 

As we have extended the CB by adding 1.5cm for the placket, we need to add the same amount to EACH end of the collar so it still fits. (Don’t worry about the seam allowances as they are already on the pattern, just add the 1.5cm.) Remark your notches.

| INTERFACING | 

Cut a strip 5cm wide and the length of your CB pattern and press onto the WS of the facing. By making the interfacing slightly wider than the facing and you’ll be able to press a nice sharp fold in your fabric.

| CUT AND MAKE |

Make your French dart according to the instructions.

  • Stay tape the neck – for the back neck use half the given measurement and add 1.5cm, or finish the tape at CB if you forget as I did 😉
  • Close and neaten French darts, shoulder and side seams. Leave out the back darts for a boxier shape top.

| COLLAR |

Press 1cm SA on the long edge to WS (STEP 14 in the instruction booklet) and pin in place.

Mark the midpoint between the SA notches.

Keep the 1cm SA pinned in place and fold collar RST in half at the midpoint, align the SA notches.

Close CB collar seam with 1cm SA, keeping 1cm SA folded in place and 6mm SA hanging free below.

Trim top corner to reduce bulk.

Turn through to RS and press seam so as not to roll to either front or back but to sit right on the edge.

| FACING |

If you haven’t already, apply your interfacing to the facing.

Neaten (overlock or zigzag) the edge of the facing. Press facing to WS and pin to hold at the neck edge.

| ATTACH COLLAR |

Place collar RST with body aligning the 6mm SA edge with neck edge. We are just attaching a single layer so keep the other side of collar free. Align notches and place the back seam of collar flush with the folded edge of the facing (you don’t want a step!). Stitch collar to the neckline with 6mm SA.

Trim corner of SA to prevent bulk.

On the WS of garment bring the free edge of the collar to the neckline to cover the stitching by 3mm and enclosing all the SA. Tack and then stitch in the ditch from the RS to finish. This is the same as our usual method of attaching the collar – we are just enclosing an end.

| HEM |

I allowed a 4cm hem allowance. I pressed it to WS by 4cm and then pressed the top raw edge under by 1cm and topstitching it at just under 3cm making it a clean-finished hem.

TOP TIP – Make sure your backs are EXACTLY the same length now before you start buttonholing.

| BUTTONS & BUTTONHOLES | 

I’ll only briefly explain how I mark my buttons and buttonholes because that could be a whole post by itself!

I always mark my button positions first (on the side of the garment to be buttonholed) and then mark my buttonholes around them to get the correct spacing. My first button was 1cm below the neck seam (my buttonhole foot wouldn’t sit any closer to the seam) and I had an 8cm spacing between each button.

I did my top buttonhole horizontally and started it 3mm to the right of the CB seam to allow the button enough space to sit on the CB.

The other buttons were all vertical and positioned centrally to the button positions on the CB line.

Once the buttonholes are made and cut, I pin the back bodies WST and push a pin through each buttonhole…

… and mark a dot on the other side to show where to sew each button.

And there you have it…yet another garment from the French Dart Pattern!

 

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The French Dart Shift – BOILED WOOL

The French Dart Shift | BOILED WOOL

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

Lovely Nicky (@nickynackynoo_) sent me an Instagram message back in the middle of November asking would the French Dart Shift work in Boiled wool? Now, I always get quite excited when someone asks or suggests a pattern variation/hack I hadn’t thought of – oh, the delights and benefits of sharing ideas on the internet! That particular day was freezing here in the UK, and as I had bemoaned frequently that I never find any jumpers that I like, I ordered some fabric that very day and did a test.  And it worked beautifully if a tad itchy, but absolutely fine with a skinny t-shirt underneath. And was just perfection on a recent trip to Paris (in a chilly January!). It was très Chic, in fact!

THE FABRIC |

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

Boiled wool is a knitted fabric that has been washed and agitated, so the fibres have a tighter felt like finish. There are lots of options regarding fibre content and weight.

I used a grey boiled wool from Backstitch in smoke. (Weight: 368gm², 60% viscose, 40% wool – 142cms wide.)

The care instructions on the Backstitch website are to dry clean (but it is meant for a lined jacket or skirt, so fair enough). And the general advice for pre-washing boiled wool is not to wash and just give it a really good steam to shrink it, and then allow to cool. Which is fine if you’re making a coat or something similar. (You generally should allow stuff to cool after pressing to help stop it stretching and creasing while still warm.) The Colette blog recommends a damp towel and a tumble dryer method, but I don’t own a tumble dryer so not a method I could test, but sounds a good plan.

I eventually decided to ignore the general advice and wash it in the machine. My theory being I was making an everyday jumper style top, I knew this fabric would shrink (probably a lot) and I knew I would NEVER be bothered to handwash it, and I really wouldn’t be bothered to dry clean it – I would, in fact, chuck it in the machine when I had to. And my friend Maria told me to do it.MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

So I did as I was told and chucked it in the machine on a short wash at 30°. It felted up a little more, so felt slightly thicker, but was still quite delightful! I did get a few of these bobbly bits, but they pulled off easily enough. What I didn’t do at the time was check how much it had shrunk. A post-cutting garment calculation puts it at about 20cm on 1.5m length (roughly 14% length shrinkage, never thought to check the width shrinkage!) I didn’t allow for that much shrinkage when I bought my fabric, but I managed to squeeze my top out. I had to do ¾ length sleeves rather than the full length ones I intended but hey-ho, such is life!

*I feel like I should put a disclaimer on bunging your boiled wool in the machine…it worked out fine for me, but I wouldn’t want you to ruin some hideously expensive cloth. Consider carefully how you will treat the finished garment, is it something you’ll chuck on the floor (me: “yes”) or is it one of those garments that you’ll hang up carefully and cherish. Be warned there are no guarantees when going against the stated care advice!

SEWING WITH BOILED WOOL | tips

Boiled wool is quite an easy fabric to sew with but there a couple of things to be aware of.

The thickness of the fabric: it’s bulky, so best not to have too many seams and details. Also, it’s easy to overpress it, which can lead to shiny marks or a stretched garment.

*Stabilise seams to prevent stretching

*Use a ballpoint needle

*Longer stitch length (I usually stitch on 3 and went up to a 4, test on a scrap of fabric for your machine)

*Walking foot: I tested on a scrap first without a walking foot and my sample was fine. Then as soon as started to stitch the garment – it wasn’t a happy bunny, it just didn’t want to feed through so I had to do a quick machine foot switch-a-roo! (My machine is pretty knackered now though, I’ve had it since 2001 and the stitch length is, shall we say, is inconsistent at best.)

* Boiled wool doesn’t fray, so doesn’t need neatening! Wahoo!

*Boiled wool doesn’t fray, so it doesn’t need hemming either!

*PRESS on a low heat, press gently and sparingly. Use a pressing cloth to help protect the fabric as you press. 

*Do not drag the iron (you may stretch the fabric) – that’s why it’s called pressing your garment and not ironing your garment.

*Press all the seams OPEN and trim/grade the bulky bits.

KEY: FDS | French Dart Shift   S/A | seam allowance   RST | right sides together   CB | centre back

FOR REFERENCE | what I did

 I cut a Size 10 (my usual size) with a finished CB length of 60cm with no hem allowance as I was leaving it raw and unfinished. 

¾ sleeves with a finished length of 46cm and 3cm hem allowance. I’m short – you’re going to want to check those measurements for you, measure something that you like to wear. (tutorial for lengthen a sleeve here!)

I left out the back darts: I marked the darts with tailor tacks, but didn’t stitch them so I could try on the top first. The shape was nice without, so left them out to reduce bulk.

Changed the collar pattern (see below).

COLLAR | cuttingMAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOLThe collar for the French Dart is normally cut on the bias grain and then folded over – giving you 4 layers of fabric. I think we can all agree, in boiled wool, that was going to be a smidge thicker than comfortable so I cut it half the depth to eliminate the roll-over part of the collar. (Keep the length of the collar the same but you can make it any depth you fancy: pattern = finished depth of collar x2 + 6mm S/A to attach & 1cm S/A on the other edge). With boiled wool being a knit fabric that has been felted, I cut it on the straight grain. And I only cut the notches on one side of the collar (the one with the 6mm S/A to attach at neck).

STABILISE THE SEAMS |MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

 

The neckline of the French Dart is taped to prevent it stretching, but when making in boiled wool you will also need to tape the shoulders and the armhole to prevent them stretching. To find the measurement – mark your seam allowances on the pattern and measure the stitch line/finished seam lengths. We don’t want to tape into the S/A as we don’t want to add any extra bulk at the seams.

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

For the neck and armholes I used a lightweight stay tape (I always trim the width in half for the neckline), follow the instructions how to tape the neck. Tape the back shoulder seam and position the tape so when you close the shoulder seam you will be stitching through the tape. MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOLFor the front and back armhole, I cut some ½” wide (1.2cm) strips of knitted fusible interfacing on the bias and ironed them into place. Because it’s cut on the bias it follows the curves nicely. I purposely made them a few millimetres wider than the seam allowance of 1cm so when stitching the sleeve into the armhole you will be stitching through the interfacing to control the seam. (Actually would have been OK to cut them a smidge wider at 1.5cm.)

BUST DART | sewing

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOLStitch the French dart, and cut open the S/A a bit further towards the apex and gently press OPEN. (The pin marks the end of the dart.)

BODY | sewing

Close shoulder seams, side seams, underarm seams of sleeves.MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

 Trim the bulky bits away! This is where the dart intersects at the side seam. Press open.

Set in the sleeves.

HEMMING | sleeves and the hemMAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOLMAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

If you are going to hem the sleeves and/or the hem, trim away the bulk and blind hem by hand. (Follow the instructions in your pattern for hemming, but leave out the neatening stage.)

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

Or Just leave your hems raw and unfinished.

COLLAR | sewing

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

 

Close CB seam of the collar and gently press open.

With RST attach the collar to the neckline (as described in instructions). Press neckline seam OPEN.

NOTE: I edgestitched the seam allowance on the body side of the seam, to flatten it a bit. Personally, I prefered the look of the garment without the edgestitching, but if you have bouncy seam allowances that won’t behave, edgestitching them flat is going to be the answer. You could actually twin needle the seam, with a row of stitching either side of the neck seam.

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

Fold the free edge of the collar to inside side to cover seam and allowances. Stitch in the Ditch of the seam from the right side to hold the collar in place.

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

Tah da!…..Or……
MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL

just leave the collar to flop over!

MAVEN PATTERNS_FRENCH DART SHIFT_BOILED WOOL