A Frilling Summer top! 

If you’re reading this you’re probably aware that Sarah @sarahcsewing and I are hosting an Instagram Challenge to sew your own Republique du Chiffon Nellie shirt. We have shared our Nellies already along with step-by-steps and a few tips we learnt along the way. This is documenting my 4th Nellie (2nd one for my 16yr old daughter) and a few more tips and daft mistakes I made along the way! Some of this you probably now know so I’ll keep it as brief as possible. Hard. As I do tend to go on!

RdC patterns have no seam allowance included. You need to add whatever s.a. you prefer. They recommend 1cm (2cm for hems).  The pattern layout does show which pieces need allowances added to, i.e NOT the ruffle x4 or the arm bindings x2.

I made the smallest size, graded it in at the sides, shortened the length by 3” and narrowed the ruffle and managed to get it out of 1m of fabric. Check your size by measuring the pattern pieces- don’t rely in the size guide!! 

RdC patterns are basic. But I like that. It gives you the flexibility to choose how you finish your seams and because of its simplicity it makes modifications straightforward. And boy have I seen lots of lovely ones!!

 Attach shoulder seam. I used french seams, but took them up by 2cm as Eilidh is quite petite. 

 I make the facings at this point. Adjust shoulder seam accordingly by that same 2cm and turn back the outer edge, press and stitch. I didn’t interface but I think if your fabric is very lightweight in comparison to the weight your ruffle will be it might be an idea.

 Now for the ruffle. This is where I messed up in my haste and overconfidence! I had already cut the 4 ruffles to the width I wanted. FORGETTING TO ALLOW FOR SEAM ALLOWANCES!! How stupid was that on my 4th one! (The answer is “very!”) 

So. With no more fabric it meant I had to use EXTREMELY small seam allowances. I sewed them together at 0.5cm and then realised I didn’t have enough width to run 2 rows of gathering stitches up so only managed one. Hint:- you need them!! My ruffle curled up like hell. It was so difficult to fight with. I was so annoyed at myself!

I still didn’t have enough seam allowance so I had to attach it a little way in from the front edge. It was such a pain and took SO long! I think it would be more noticeable if it was a plain fabric but thankfully the pattern masks any slight wobbly bits!) Don’t forget to start the ruffle allowing for your hem allowance at the bottom edge. The ruffle finishes at the top centre front. It’s lucky I love this wee top so much  and knew it’s potential or I’d have thrown it away by now! Once the facing is stitched on and gathering stitches removed it makes it alot more secure. Thank goodness! So glad that bit was over! Easy sailing from now on! 

Press the facing away from the shirtthen back the other way to the insideI topstitch close to the edge and tack the facing in place to the shoulder seams. Next up finish the side seams in your desired way. Again I french seamed. 

Fold up the hem twice so it sits in line with your ruffle bottom and stitchThe armhole binding instructions are non existent so this is the way I chose to do it. Press the binding in half lengthwise wrong sides together and pin to the armhole all 3 raw edges together starting at the underarm seam. Stitch 1cm (1/2 way in) and press to the outside. Then press again to the inside. Stitch near to the edge. I used my buttonhole spacer on the full ruffled edge starting at the centre front. People have also used snaps. Or even sewn it up completely with no openings as it can probably get over your head (check that first though!!)  I’m so in love with this wee top- so is Eilidh!! Have lots if variations planned. Now come on Summer…!!! 

A little bit of fur…. 

I think we all know that Instagram friends are such enablers when it comes to impulse fabric purchases!! My lovely friend Joann posted a picture of some faux fur she had bought in the sale at Joel and Sons and that was all the temptation I needed! Within the hour I had bought 2m of the most delicious faux fur with no idea what I was going to do with it! But it was reduced from £130 per metre to £25. No brainer- right?  But what to make? Is a fur jacket really ‘me’? And everyone warned me about the mess!!! What was I thinking??

I trawled pinterest- as you do and fell in love with this fur bomber but for some reason I was swayed from my gut instinct (I never learn!) and ended up playing safe with Simplicity 2150Yes, it was a dead easy make, yes the mess with the fur everywhere was a living nightmare for a tidy freak like me! But I wasn’t happy with it. It just wasn’t me. Time to go out on a limb and tweak it! ✂️ 

I had some black ribbing left over from another bomber jacket so decided ‘What the hell, go for it’. It worked straight away. I didn’t measure. I literally used what I had left! Cut 2 pieces for the cuffs , enough to turn over double and then the long bit that was left to do the same for the waistband. Stretching it out to fit the fur it was perfect, couldn’t have worked any better!! Already I knew I had done the right thing and I was excited again!  

I removed the collar as I thought it looked too bulky , cut another an inch narrower and rounded the front edges instead of them being right angles, then reattached. 

A 20” open ended zip was the perfect length for the centre front and it was actually alot easier to insert than I thought it might. As long as you trim the fur along the seam allowances first (as I did with all the seams) its pretty easy. 

I decided to use some of the black silk I bought on my trip to Toronto for the lining. Made it up the same as the outer jacket then pinned right sides together from the bottom left front up the zip, right around the neck (encasing the collar inside) and back down to the bottom right. Sewed up all the way round with the zipper foot on, turn it the right way out and “voila!” It really was that easy! 

The tedious bits were handsewing the lining to the cuffs and waistband, stretching the ribbing as you go.  Could have done with a third hand there…. 🤚🏻✋🏻🤚🏻

A bit of time spent with a pin poking out any fur trapped in the seam was well worth it, it just gives that neater finish. 

All along I was never completely convinced that it was going to actually be my style. But today, out in the snow it really is!! I can’t tell you how warm and cosy it feels! I’m so glad I persevered and made it my own. And I got my fur bomber after all! 🐻

Japanese print trousers 

Hi everyone and welcome to my first blog post for Sewalicious! I took on a bit of a personal challenge for this one and decided to try something I’d never done before. Or at least, something I’d never done SUCCESSFULLY before! Trousers! Being able to get the fitting right was definitely what was putting me off but hey, what better time to face those fears!  

After alot of research I settled on the Claude trousers by  French pattern house République du Chiffon. High waisted with a waistband and closing with side invisible zipper and buttons or snaps. In their words “ Slightly loose but tapers through the leg. The welt pockets give it a modern and urban style’  Sounded good to me!  

I knew straight away what I wanted to use- this utterly gorgeous Japanese style nature print stretch cotton satin   If you know me you’ll know I’m a sucker for bird/branch prints and this fabric from Sewalicious didn’t disappoint. It’s £7.50 per half metre. The fabric is 98% cotton 2% spandex and a really lovely medium weight. A matt charcoal base colour with greens and burnt oranges. The slight stretch is just enough to be super comfy without being a stretchy fabric if that makes sense! It is ideal for semi fitted dresses and trousers or it would make a REALLY gorgeous jacket… 

About the pattern. I love RDC patterns (I have the Suzon and Nellie blouses) but I do know that the instructions, although in English, are very brief. So don’t expect to be walked through in nice easy steps! It asks for 2m of 140cm wide fabric. This does cover all sizes though and as my fabric was 147cm I managed to get them cut out of just 1.40m (although as you’ll find out later I did need some of that extra!) 

Now. I have a real love/hate relationship with this pattern!

 1. I really love the style- one that can be dressed up or down depending on the fabric you use. 

2. I love the pockets (eventually!) I thought they might be a bit small and pointless but actually they are perfect. 

3. I love the fact that they are true to size.  My waist measurement is always 2 sizes bigger than my hips size so I cut out to size 40 and then just graded in the legs when sewing them together. 

BUT… I really cursed those instructions! The straightforward bits are fine but the pockets and waistband had me seriously scratching my head! I’ve made welt pockets once before on the Rigel Bomber and thank goodness I had! Although the construction is different at least I had an idea of what I was meant to be doing! (Although it didn’t look like it at times!) Waistband instructions were equally confusing. In fact I ended up attaching it in my own way with what just felt right and it worked absolutely fine. Another word of warning though, if your fabric has a directional pattern really take time to think through the waistband construction. This is where I needed the extra fabric as I ended up cutting the 2×2 waistband pieces no less than 4 different times! I don’t quite know how but I kept getting at least one of the pieces upside down.

 I’m really glad that this fabric is so forgiving. It washed and ironed like a dream, hardly frayed and withstood rather alot of unpicking at times! Wish I could sew with fabric this easy all the time! 

I wondered if patterned trousers was a step to far for me but I’m seriously in love with them and wore them at the first opportunity for dinner at the weekend! 
I grew to love the pattern too. The higher waistband that sits comfortably just where you want it to,  the pockets, the lack of adjustments needed… my kind of trousers! And now I know what I’m doing I’m planning at least another 2 pairs as I think they will definitely become a well worn wardrobe staple of mine. Thanks for reading! Happy Sewing! Christine xx

Going green! 💚

  • Once upon a time, a long time ago I stumbled across the coat of my dreams…. unfortunately it was being worn by Sarah Jessica Parker and many hours of googling found nothing similar to buy- and certainly not at a price I liked! 18 months ago when I started sewing again I would never have dreamt I would have the sewing skills to recreate it, but as time went on and my confidence grew I began to feel brave…! 

The next problem was finding a pattern. I searched and searched but none of the line drawings I found were anywhere near the same shape. Eventually I found Burda 8292. Hideously dated cover pictures but pretty good line drawings that in my bravery I thought I could tweak. The priority being getting rid of that massive collar,  and DEFINITELY no bow or shoulder pads in sight!!! 😄The hunt for velvet was also pretty time consuming, but eventually I decided on going green. Gorgeous forest green velvet- as being a redhead I should wear more green, right? And can you have too much green? No, no, why not add a green shot silk for the lining? Both purchased from Fancy Silk Store, Birmingham. 

I read up alot about sewing with velvet- and put it off for a long time!! But actually much to my surprise it was relatively pain free! Big number 1 tip? A walking foot. That’s it-it really is that simple! I started off basteing everything within an inch if its life, but actually as I got braver, I found it wasn’t really necessary, certainly on an ordinary straight seam at least. So basically- don’t fear velvet! Just have  your hoover at the ready, it makes one hell of a mess! 

For the main body of the coat I just followed the pattern. Very straightforward I must say. Even with the usual basic and limited Burda instructions. I shortened the sleeves by 4″ at the ‘lengthen/shorten here’ mark to make it bracelet length sleeves and cut the overall length to halfway between the jacket and coat versions to try to emulate the SJP version as much as possible. 

The pockets are different on the original inspiration coat so I left the front and back side panel seams open below the waist and just sewed up the side seams to the bottom. I didn’t want either inseam or patch pockets like the Burda pattern. I wanted slanted pockets joined inseam into the front and back panels. So I got creating and came up with this! I attached the lining to the velvet right sides together along the top diagonal seam then pressed and turned right sides out, pulling the velvet over to the back by 1.5″. Then just roughly stitched down the sides and bottom to hold together temporarily. They were then inserted into the side seams and all sewn up together. Yeay!!! 👍🏻 Who doesn’t love a nice big super deep pocket? So pleased with how they turned out! (Photographing this fabric is ridiculously hard- it looks a different colour every time!) 

Next main change was the collar. The upright collar in the Burda pattern was about 5″ deep! As we’re not still in the late 80’s I obviously hacked it! I rounded off the front edges and made it 1.5″ deep instead. I definitely basted this bit. Don’t judge me on this messy photo!! It shows how much the velvet frays though! This was where my excitement at making the adjustments got the better of me and in my eagerness I cocked up 😣 I didn’t realise until I went to button it up and by that time it was WAY to late to change.  I made a lovely mandarin collar, yes… but I didn’t leave a gap from the front seam- so when it’s buttoned up it overlaps. So annoyed with myself that I didn’t think of it at the time. Believe me, velvet seams are blimmin’ hard to unpick and re-sew once trimmed due to the horrendous fraying. But. To be honest, I don’t much like wearing coats done up and in the original picture SJP was wearing it open… that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! 😄 

The rest went smoothly- the buttonholes that I held my breath over sewed like a dream much to my surprise! Thank goodness! I used self covered buttons too. 

Lining went in easily as well.  Other than where it joined the velvet at the front bottom corners. 3 attempts to get it to lie flat and I’m still not completely happy with it, it doesn’t hang nicely there. But after 3 unpicks and re-sews I don’t have enough leeway in the seam to try again so it will have to stay like it. Unless one day I decide to shorten the whole coat by an inch! 

All in all I love it! 💚 I’m not worried about the bracelet sleeves not keeping my wrists warm, as I have huge pockets to do that!! It will be great dressed up for a night out and also get loads of wear on a normal day with my jeans. I’m definitely not saving it for ‘best’ because it’ll never get worn then!! My husband thinks he’s very funny as he says he thinks I’m auditioning for a part in Robin Hood…..

We tried to get some quick photos during a 5 minute rain break! I’ll be sure to add more to Instagram as I wear it with different outfits but here it is with my Bettine.  Hope you like it!! I know the 18 year old me would have loved swanning around in the 6th form common room in this! 💚 

From stripey beginnings….! 

  1. Welcome to my first ever blog post!! 3 weeks ago on Instagram I saw a rtw blouse posted as an inspiration from  Colette patterns blog page. Well I fell head over heels in love and then some! ❤ I just knew I had to pull out all of my sewing skills and try my hardest to recreate this beauty! I found it online and it had more photos. It was just a pull on blouse, no fancy fastenings, completely plain front and back. Perfect!! Those sleeves do all the talking after all! It had a cowl neck which I wasn’t keen on so decided that was really the own change I wanted to make. I was straight online to hunt for fabric. I found a blue/white seersucker at Minerva crafts. Nearly pressed ‘buy’ until I saw it came in grey/white too. Now i’m a bit of a grey girl so decided that was much more ‘me’ £130 for the rtw blouse, less than £30 for fabric. Now to find patterns to help me in my quest. I don’t mind a bit of pattern mashing and adapting. But i’m definitely not up to completely designing from scratch.
  2. After much musing which I’ll not bore you with, I decided the Sew Over It Susie blouse fits me well and has the benefit of already being a long sleeve pull on style blouse. Surely the neckline couldn’t be too hard to adapt to round/slash neck? 🤔 Ha! That’s what I thought! 
  3. I made a toile but couldn’t get it over my head!! Slight problem! That was when I remembered the boxy Betty blouse. A free pattern I made last year when I first got back into sewing. That pulls over my head perfectly! Ah, I thought. If I use that as a starting point and draft a neck facing too rather than bias binding then we could just be back on track! The toile worked so i was straight onto making that first cut into the seersucker. I was impatient and figured I’d work out the cuff bit later! Patience is definitely not my strong point…
  4. In the original picture the stripes on the  body of the top are diagonal and the sleeves vertical with diagonal cuffs. This meant cutting on the bias on the fold for the body piece. With facings to match First thing to do is to stay stitch the neck edges carefully. Then  sew the bust darts – into the tip and tie the loose ends then press. 
  5. For the facings I read a little tip for a neat finish to facings- I can’t remember who posted it, but it’s brilliant! 
  6. Stitch the interfacing to the facing reverse sides together along the long outer edge (with glued edge facing out) Press carefully into the seam, between the 2 layers. Snip the curve and trim close to the edge as neccessary. Then fold inside out! Or should that be outside in?   Iron to fix the interfacing and “vóila!” You have a nice neat outside edge. I LOVE this tip!! How neat is that?!  I then joined facings at the side seams, pressed open, then attached it to the neckline rs together. Press then understitch to stop it flicking back too much. (I later added a couple of tiny stitches to also help hold it down) 
  7. Now for the sleeves! Obviously I did a toile or 3 before I moved onto the actual fabric – and boy did I need them!! 
  8. I cut 4″ off the original length of the Susie sleeve to allow for the extended cuff but it then took a bit of working out how to do the placket. I’ll not bore y’all with the disasters- there were 3 in all,plus a few more minor ones.  
  9. I tried using the sleeve placket area from a mans shirt I’ve made for the husband person. (Vogue 8759) That seemed to go ok when I used it.  I traced the Susie sleeve minus that 4″ then traced the 2 sides of the placket and stuck them in place on top. Not sure how well you can see from the photo but it extends on both sides, one more than the other. There is a foldline marked on both pieces. It looks more complicated than it is honestly! Basically you sew down the seam to the large dot. Press along the fold lines to the inside. Then press again to seal the raw edges in. And sew both sides twice- once along the open edge and once just in from the fold. DON’T do what i did on my toile here and sew too high …The red stitching line on the left should stop at the small dot. To fold it and make it so that (in this case) the left overlaps the right you stitch a horizontal line from small to large dot, then diagonally up. Magic!! A placket! Ignore all my pen markings! (I struggle with precision sometimes!!) I also decided to sew a square/cross too. Hell knows why because it just looks wonky. But hey ho. Wait for the bows!! 
  10. The cuff pieces  were taken from the Archer shirt and lengthened to allow for 3 buttons on it. Imterfacing in one half, press non interfaced top edge under by 1/2″ Then sew up both sides to that point and trim corners. Turn to right side and press. Now for the fun bit! Oh yesss! The bows! 
  11. I cut 4 lengths 23″x4″ then sewed them inside out to measure 22″ by 1.5″ tapering at the end. I double stitched these particularly at the point as because the fabric is quite an open weave it was popping open on turning through. PressThis is where it took a bit of thought. Firstly i had to work out how long they needed to be to make a nice bow without it being too long and dangling in my dinner!! I decided 15.5″ was about right. 
  12. So. I attached the cuff rs together making pleats to make it fit perfectly. I tacked this just to make sure of positioning. Then i sandwiched the ties in between the cuff and the sleeve positioning them so that the side with the underneath flap being 1/2 from the edge of  the placket and the top side of the flap being in line with the edge. Stitch, press then hand stitch the inside edge. When the cuffs are done up the ties butt up against each other Buttons were a drama. I was all set to put 3 rectangular grey buttons on each cuff hence sewed grey buttonholes. But at the last minute decided the plain off white pearly ones meant the bows and cuffs did the talking rather than fight for attention with the buttons! 
  13. Last decision was the length. To tuck in or leave out? Hmmm. Well. I’m not really a tucked in formal kind of girl so after much deliberation i chopped off 2″‘ and sewed a turned up hem- by hand I’ll have you know!! 
  14. And that, as they say, is it!  I’m completely in love with it! Time, patience and lots of toiles have definitely paid off. I hope you like it too. (Maybe not as much as me- I think i’m a little over excited as my family don’t seem to share my enthusiasm in quite such abundance!) Typically the temperatures have soared in Scotland since I finished it, so I’m hoping I get to wear it soon, once it’s not such tropical weather!