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Tamarack Jacket

My friend Rebekah (@sowno65 on Instagram) and I recently decided that we would like to do a “One Pattern Two Ways” project together. It didn’t take long for us both to realise that we wanted to make a Tamarack Jacket, and I think this was just the motivation that I needed or I never would have made one. Click here for Rebekah’s blog.

I already had a Pinterest board started so I headed there to see what style I wanted to make. I came across a jacket by a brand I hadn’t heard of before, Polder. I loved the detail around the edge of the jacket and the rounded curves at the front.

I had spotted a fabric from Sister Mintaka that would be perfect for this style, a Beige Cotton Linen Jacquard. I new I wanted to go for an Indian block print cotton for the inside and found the perfect fabric from Simply Fabrics Brixton. I picked up the batting from my local fabric store.

Do you want my top tip for your first quilting project- choose a fabric that has a square pattern! This made the quilting process so so so much easier, as I had to draw very few lines for my quilting.

I loved the quilting process, it was very soothing and relaxing, a little meditative. I can safely say I now see the appeal in it, although I will probably stick to quilting clothes and not quilts.

For the construction of the jacket I didn’t make things easy for myself and decided to make the jacket reversible. I am so happy I did this though as I know this is a garment I will treasure forever and the finish on the inside makes all the difference.

I tried to flat fell the seams by machine first (after trimming down as many layers as I could) but wasn’t getting a neat enough finish. So I stitched everything down by hand on the shoulder and armhole. I used bias tape on the inside side seams, and handstitched this too, along with the bias trim around the edge. This took me 2 full evenings in front of the tv, while watching family movies. I hand-stitched 2 patch pockets on the outside (although neither is really the outside or inside as it’s reversible) which will hold my phone and car keys.

Photobombed! Lol!

I had originally bought some cream cotton bias tape for finishing the jacket but I went off it after making a few samples. The fabric was sitting beside a cotton linen blend I was using to make a jumpsuit around the same time and I realised it was the perfect match for the darker tones in the cotton linen jacquard and a lovely contrast with the block print.

Test samples

I made a size 6 based on my measurements (B35/36”, W30”, H41”) and the fit is perfect. I can comfortably wear a jumper underneath and it will be the perfect layering piece under some of my unlined coats. If I wanted this to be a ‘coat’ instead of a jacket I would maybe size up. I think if in doubt with this pattern, size up! The wadding adds a lot of bulk to the shape so a larger size is the safer option.

I am not sure I can put into words the love I have for this jacket. Every time I wear or look at it I feel pride in every minute spent working on it and love for every stitch. I am happy I took the time to pick a fabric I really loved, with the amount of time spent on this jacket I would hate to not love it at the end.

I want to say a big thanks to Rebekah for suggesting this project and supporting me along the way. I also want to say a big thank you to Sandeep from Sister Mintaka who could not have been more supportive and helped out when I was deciding on quilting patterns.

This feels like the perfect project to finish off with in 2020. It hasn’t been a great year, but it has been filled with great makes. This has definitely secured a spot in my top makes list.

Sharlene xx

Contrast Bias T-Shirt Dress

Since I saw Lucy’s first sample of the Bias T-shirt dress with a contrasting panel I knew I would have to try this out. It has taken me a while to find the right fabrics for this as I didn’t want to settle for something that wasn’t right for me.

Sally from Modista sewing shared an online fabric store that I hadn’t heard of before, Patterns and Plains, so I went for a nosey. I couldn’t believe when I found not only the perfect fabrics for this dress, but they were also on sale! They sell fabrics in 0.1m increments so you can cut down on the amount of fabric left over after you finish and have a lovely selection of fabrics to choose from.

I got 2 meters of the Black colourway and 1.4m of the Sage green colourway as this was all they had left. If you are planning to make a contrast version like this you will need to measure the length of the front dress piece as this is the longest pattern piece you will need to fit on the contrast fabric.

Once I had all the pattern pieces out I got to work on figuring out which pieces I needed in which fabric. Most of this pattern is cut on a single layer anyway so that made it a little easier to figure out which way up the patten pieces needed to go, I just needed to take extra care with the sleeves. I cut the Front Dress, Back Right Dress and Right Sleeve in the green (pieces marked above with a green X). Once the garment was sewn up I did debate changing the back pieces to half black, half green but I stuck with all black as I loved it as it was and couldn’t wait to wear it!

The other change I made was to leave out the zip. I basted this seam together first and checked if I could get it on. I knew this was a possibility as I am able to get my previous dress on and off without using the zip.

I love this dress. The contrast fabric wrapping around the front is very flattering and so striking. The design elements make this a really interesting dress and completely elevate the look. I honestly cant get enough of it.

If you haven’t tried a pattern by Trend Patterns before I would really encourage you to take a look. Lucy is an amazing pattern cutter and her years of experience in the fashion industry are evident. I have already started on the Drop Shoulder Coat in a Green wool and I know it will be beautiful.

So in summery, this is now in my Top 5 favourite makes and patterns! Have you tried any patterns by Trend Patterns yet?

Sharlene xx

Rya Jacket and Fibre Mood Linkparty

I joined in with the Fibre Mood link party for issue 11, which meant I got a sneak preview of the patterns and could choose one to make before the release. When I saw the patterns it was a pretty easy decision. I have wanted to make an oversized shirt jacket in the style of the Rya for at least a year now, check out a few of the pins I had saved.

I received a very well timed email from Pound Fabrics reminding me of the selection of wool blends they had. I loved the colour of this beige and found a perfect cotton to use for the Bias and pocket linings.

I decided to bias bind all the seams, as the jacket is unlined I love having this feature on show in a jacket. I made a size X Small, my measurements put me in between an X Small and Small so I went for the lower size as it has so much ease. I got 3m of wool blend and 1m of cotton. I used most of the cotton making binding for the seams and had 1 meter of wool left over (I didn’t check exactly how much I had at the start though). The wool was wider than the fabric recommendation chart.

Fibre Mood Aflink

This pattern features lots of oversized details that I love. The pockets are huge (perfect for a phone, keys and various bits of Lego!) and the collar is just the right proportion for the overall pattern.

I used the same cotton as I used for the binding and lining for the under collar and collar stand. I love this little pop of print when the collar is flipped up. The pattern has a lovely curved hem at the side so you can see a little peak of the bias hem.

I had these Merchant and Mills recycled resin buttons from Good Fabric for a different project but used them here as I didn’t have enough of anything else in my stash. I love the contrast of the darker button against the light fabric.

Recycled Resin Buttons

This jacket will see me through autumn and winter, as there is enough room to layer a jumper underneath. So it is perfect for our very changeable Irish weather were layers are the key to dressing!

Can you spot the button I forgot to do up?

I loved having a little push to make this jacket, as I have a feeling it would have been pushed further and further down my list. I have so many big plans for this season and it feels good to get this one ticked off the list.

Have you had a look at the new Fibre Mood 11? What is your favourite pattern?

Happy sewing,

Sharlene xx

Flor Dress and Top

I was recently part of the tester team for the new Flor dress and top by Bella Loves Patterns. This pattern is a romantic wrap style with princess seams, ruffles and a crop top or midi length skirt. There are so many thoughtful details in this pattern and a lot of potential for hacking. I am going to share my thoughts on the pattern, my first hack and a few more I have planned.

The Pattern

The first test version I made was in a lilac herringbone from Pound Fabrics to test the fit. I love the shade of lilac but I am not so sure on the fabric, but it is perfect for toiles and checking the fit of a new pattern.

Flor Pattern

This is the first pattern Isabela has released with different cup sizes, the pattern ranges from 6 to 20 with B, C and D cups included. I made a size 10 and am 5 ft 6.

My main issue with this version is the skirt, the gathers are too puffy for my liking as I tend to avoid this style of skirt. I think in a lighter fabric like a Cotton Lawn this would be perfect and it would still hold the structure of the ruffles.

When I saw the first sample of this dress I knew instantly that I was going to try and recreate a RTW style I had seen from H&M.

I picked up I this Broderie Anglaise from Felicity Fabrics first birthday sale, I had my eye on it for a while as it wasn’t the traditional floral embroidery and it was called Emily (my daughters name). It felt like fate that this fabric and the pattern where such a good match.

Felicity Fabrics website

The first thing I needed to change was the skirt. To get the length I wanted I removed 14cm from the lengthen/shorten line. I also took 10cm from the middle of the front piece and 5 cm from the back for a less full skirt and to fit everything onto the fabric.

Next step was to add in a sleeve. I used the puff sleeve from the Vita dress, also by Bella Loves Patterns as it had the right shape that I wanted at the sleeve head and the cuff. I shortened the sleeve by 16cm to get a 3/4 length sleeve and trued the edges (evened out). I added elastic at the end to get the gathered shape.

YouTube link

Adding a sleeve to a sleeveless bodice requires a little alteration to the bodice too. To get the armhole to the correct shape for the sleeve to be inserted I laid both the Vita and Flor bodice on top of each other and traced the new shape. You can see me doing this in more detail on my YouTube video. This can be achieved with different bodice/sleeve combinations, if you have any questions please ask away.

This has worked out perfectly for me and has given the exact style I was looking for. I love this dress so much and I am just praying for a few more sunny days so that I can wear it out!

Earrings are from Clay by Holly

Now that I can add the Vita sleeve onto this dress I can also picture a long floaty autumnal version with the full length sleeves and no ruffles, the ultimate boho dress! I think adding and removing different elements of this pattern will give you a lot of options, as well as playing about with the proportions. Bigger ruffles, or smaller, shorter skirts and I have seen a few peplum top versions too.

The Flor pattern is on sale all this week with 15% off (until 4th September) so now is the perfect time to add this to your pattern collection.

Thank you for reading this blog and happy sewing!

Sharlene xx

Innes Dress

When Susan and Nic from new UK based pattern brand Homer & Howells asked me to pattern test for them it was an easy decision to make. I had already made their Blair blazer twice and was a big fan. The pattern was really well drafted, the instructions were clear and the style was perfect for me.

I will admit that this style of dress is one I usually avoid- I hate showing the top of my arms, I know it’s silly! But I trusted their skills and thought it was as good a time as any to try this style out.

I love it! I made my first version in a mid-weight black watch tartan linen I had in my stash. I wore it 3 times within the first week of making it, which says it all. It is lightweight, breathable and easy to throw on. I can picture it with a high neck jumper layered underneath for winter too.

The neckline has a lovely soft v shape to it which I feel hits just the right spot for me. One of my favourite details is the side splits which are finished with a lovely deep hem.

For reference I am 5ft 6inch and the length of the dress and depth of the side splits are perfect for me.

I made a second version in this Lady McElroy linen viscose blend from Sister Mintaka. I had 1.5m and it was narrower than what the pattern required but I managed to squeeze it in by taking 2 inches off the length and cutting one of the facings in 2 (not on the fold).

The pattern comes with 2 options for finishing the neckline, either a facing or a bias finish. I used a facing for both version. The instruction for doing a bias finish were very clear and I would feel confident to try this out too.

The girls have included some fitting tip with this version for some changes that might be a little tricky with this style, such as a narrow/broad shoulder adjustment.

I love it with my new boots and will be pairing this with a chunky jumper come autumn!

If you haven’t had a look at this pattern company before you definitely need to check them out, the Blair blazer is a brilliant pattern for starting to make blazers and I have the Maud trousers cut and ready to sew. Next on my list will be the Cissy dress (which I intend to pick up today).

My kids are always getting in on the action

I am super happy I have tried this cami style of dress out now as these are definitely 2 of my most worn pieces this summer. What are your favourite summer pieces this year?

Happy sewing,

Sharlene xx

White Linen Jazz Dress

This fabric has sat in my stash waiting for the perfect project since January. I picked it up at a Dressmakers Anonymous Belfast fabric swap and honestly nearly didn’t take it, with 2 young kids white isn’t always the best choice! But I loved the texture and as it was linen there was always the option of dying it a different colour.

I knew when planning my spring summer collections I had to include this fabric, either in its original form or in a different colour. After scrolling through Pinterest the perfect dress appeared and I knew what I would do with it.

Image of Cecelie Bahnsen dress from Pinterest

I had a few option for patterns with this style. I tried out the By Hand London Hannah wrap dress to see how I liked the fit at the top. It was a good contender until Raphaelle from Ready to Sew shared a version of the Jazz dress on Instagram and I knew this was it!

Jazz eBook

If you haven’t already checked out the Jazz eBook I cant recommend it enough. When I say the options are endless I am not kidding. The eBook comes with 82 different views including jumpsuits, dresses, tops and bibs in different sleeve and neckline variations, along with different hacks on her blog. When it was released as an eBook I got every version printed and decided now was definitely the time to make use of it.

I used version 69 but with a few tweaks. First up I knew I wanted the length of the tiers of the skirt swapped, so I shortened the top skirt and lengthened the bottom. The next was to add some volume to the sleeve head (are you surprised?). I used the slash and spread method for this. I went ahead and made it with these modification but after the first try on there were a few other changes I needed to make.

The bodice was a touch too long in the heavier fabric so I took the skirt off and removed 1 inch from the length of the bodice. The pattern features a dropped shoulder and with the addded volume at the sleeve head it was too much in the stiff fabric. I removed 2 inches from the shoulder and reattached the sleeve. I also removed the cuff from the sleeve and added an elastic casing. These changes all helped create something closer to my inspiration image.

I am really happy with the end result, and even happier I discovered these white Zara boots on Depop as they really make the outfit for me.

The fabric is a little sheer from the loosely woven stripes so I will wear a slip or cycling shorts underneath when I wear it out. I am still not sure where I am going to wear it out but I am sure I will find an excuse soon.

It has pockets!

I am definitely feeling encouraged to make more use of this pattern now, I love Raphelle’s style. There is something about French pattern designers that really appeals to me. I think the faux wrap jumpsuit with sleeves will be next in a nice floaty rayon. Do you have any patterns in your stash that you want to make more use of? I would love to know what they are.

Happy sewing,

Sharlene xx

Rust Dots Bias T-Shirt Dress

I had been on the hunt for a brown polka dot fabric for nearly a year. Last spring I had ‘spotted’ some Pretty Woman inspired polka dot dresses on the high street so I started to look for fabric. (The dresses were either from a very low quality high street store or just not the right style for me so I knew better than to buy them).

When Mind the Maker released their Dots Stretch Viscose and I saw the Rust colour I knew it was going to be perfect. It’s the right shade of brown for me and I liked the black dots instead of white. I missed out the first time Lamazi fabrics had it but snapped some up when they restocked it. I wasn’t sure what I would make so I bought 3m, my go to amount when I am unsure.

Lamazi Fabrics

When Trend Patterns started to share sneak peaks of her next pattern I knew I would have to make it. Lucy very kindly sent me the pattern to try out and I knew the rust dots would be perfect for it. I wasted no time in getting the pattern traced and cut.

Trend Pattterns

The construction went very smooth, considering there are techniques that I have never seen before. The pocket is attached to one pattern piece instead of the traditional method for inserting inseam pockets. When I first read the instructions I was a little confused but once I saw the pieces it all made sense and I like this method for constructing the pocket now, it gives are really clean finish.

The placement of the zip is the other difference. Due to the shape of the pattern pieces the zip is inserted diagonally across the back. This is something I have never seen before (and I have made a lot of patterns!) but the instructions were very clear and easy to follow and I had no trouble with it.

I also read through the instructions at the start and got a lot of pieces overlocked before starting the construction of the garment, which helped speed up the process. There are a lot of notches on all the pieces so take care when cutting out. These will be a great indicator if any of your pieces have stretched out of shape (due to being cut on the bias) so make sure they all match up.

I love the shape of this dress and all the bias cut sections gives it a really flattering shape. I am definitely going to try making one similar to the sample with contrasting panels to really make this section stand out. I would also like to shorten it (which would be easy to do as all hems are marked on the pattern pieces) in a summery fabric. And I am definitely trying a top version in it (and maybe adding a puff sleeve, obviously!).

This is the style of dress you could make for a lot of occasions. I love mine styled with biker boots or trainers, but I could also see me wearing it with black heels for a night out. It would be lovely in a lightweight crepe or viscose for a wedding or a lightweight cotton for a more casual look.

This pattern is classified as Moderate difficulty which is accurate as some of the techniques are very different and you are working with a lot of fabric cut on the bias so I would recommend having experience sewing with bias cut fabrics and invisible zips before making this.

This dress is now up there with all of my favourites. I love how the bottom skirt panels drape and how it curves around the body. I felt amazing wearing this all day and I cant wait to wear it out some day (soon hopefully).

Thank you for reading and happy sewing,

Sharlene xx

Jean-Paul Coveralls

I have been obsessing over the Coverall trend since it first hit the high street and have been planning this exact pair for a long time. But why did it take me so long to get around to making them?

I think my biggest fear was that they wouldn’t suit me, or I would get the fit completely wrong. I don’t own a lot of jumpsuits so I don’t have a lot of experience with them. I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to them and it was something I really wanted to make.

I had a vision for a pair made from Tencel to replicate some of the dressier versions I had pinned (plus it is my favourite fabric) and when The Dad Hand had their amazing sale this year I had to snap up some of this green. I bought 2.5m which was what the pattern recommended, but only just squeezed it in with the adjustments I made to the pattern. It was a close call!

Green tencel along with other fabrics purchased fro The Dab Hand. The DabHand

I had the fabric pre-washed and the pattern cut out pretty quickly. I had prepared the pattern last summer for a different project only to find I didn’t have enough fabric, so trying to figure out which version I had planned to make took a little time. Obviously I didn’t make a note of this at the time… that would have made to much sense! I made View 2 of the expansion pack with the hidden button placket.

I added extra length to the bodice and trousers. Adding length to the rise is standard for me, usually one to two inches depending on the pattern. For this pattern I wanted to add to the bodice as well so when it was belted it would hang over the belt. This style suits me best. I knew from previously making the Jazz jumpsuit I would need this extra length here too. I made size 38, added 1 inch to the bodice and 1 inch to the trouser rise.

Once I had this figured out there was a lot of stopping and starting with this project. I brought it with me to a sewing day and had issues from the start. I sewed the bust pleats only to realise they were not aligned after I had pressed them. The neck stretched so it was difficult to attach the collar stand. Or I possibly did something wrong here which would explain some of the other problems I had further down the line. I’m still not sure.

I fixed all these issues and then the top half sat hanging for over a month before I decided to continue with it. The instructions for the fly left me in a bit of a stump, but I muddled my way through as best I could and finally had something I could try on. I was ecstatic with the fit and couldn’t wait to attach the buttons so I could wear it.

I hung it up after trying it on and realised the front fly was not in line with the button placket. It was sitting out further than it should so you could see it when the buttons were done. After this there was a lot of head scratching, “hangry” tantrums and very nearly tears. I managed to get it all lined up in the end but I know it is still not right. But, I will not let it put me off trying this pattern again and I am already dreaming up a linen version.

My advice if you are planning to make this is take your time over the fly and make sure you are attaching the fly extension in the right place. And stay stitch the neckline. I made a mix of views from the expansion pack, so I was switching a lot between the different instructions on my iPad. Next time I will print both sets of instructions and highlight the sections that are relevant to me. I think this will limit some of the confusion I experienced too.

There is a step that is out of order in the Expansion pack. In the image below there is a line on the back bodice piece but no instruction as to why it was there. I checked with the original instructions and discovered it was a dart, which appeared later on in the Expansion pack instructions.

However, with all the trouble this garment caused me it is definitely one of my favourites! I am so happy I have finally made it and there will definitely be more added to my wardrobe in the future!

I was feeling the Top Gun/Captain Marvel vibes 😂

Happy Sewing!

Sharlene xx

The Ilford Jacket

I was absolutely thrilled to be asked to pattern test the new Friday Pattern Company pattern, the Ilford Jacket. This pattern is Chelsea’s first non-binary pattern and it is gooood! I can easily see this pattern working on guys and girls, when I’m wearing my versions I definitely don’t feel like I’m wearing a men’s pattern. Likewise, I could definitely see me making this for Darren.

This pattern is well suited for beginners who want to dip their toe into shirt or jacket making. The pattern is easy to follow and there are none of the complications parts of a shirt (collar stands, plackets, etc.). There are 2 different sleeve options, giving you a chance to try out a placket sleeve with a cuff, 2 different lengths and soooo many pocket combinations. I promise you will have so much fun with these!

For my first version I went for the longer length in a black watch tartan linen I had in my stash. I debated over the fabric choice for a while but I will get a lot of wear from this version as a light jacket or belted as a dress.

I used the long sleeve with cuff, the hand warmer lower pockets and upper pockets with the little pencil pocket on top- this is the cutest detail ever! The construction was very easy to follow and some of the more complicated steps are taken care of first which I like.

Can you spot my Kylie and the Machine label…

This is such an easy item to through on. I love how much the linen has softened now and although it is lightweight it still keeps me warm.

For my next version I switched things up a bit and really made the pattern my own. I went for the short style in this amazing Robert Kaufman cotton flannel from Sister Mintaka. I love the colours in this fabric, it will go with basically everything in my wardrobe!

I put the collar on the opposite way to what the pattern suggests this time, sewing the right side of the collar to the wrong side of the jacket. I then sewed the front placket to the outside. This gives the effect of a separate placket instead of one folded from the fabric (I hope that makes sense?). I also folded the hem to the outside. This gave the jacket the feeling of a classic jean jacket style and I love it! If I had thought it through I would have used a flat cell seam at the sides but I like the little bit of overlocking you can see at the side. Especially since I have started using constrasting threads in my overlocker.

I used the hand warmer pockets again but took a bit of depth out of them so they would fit on the jacket (but still fit my phone!) and the upper pockets with a flap with a little hidden detail. Honestly the options to make this jacket your own are endless.

I would definitely recommend this pattern to all levels. It is quick to sew and the possibilities are endless. I am planning my next version in this amazing heavy weave fabric I got from a destash.

Have you tried this pattern yet?

Happy sewing,

Sharlene xx

Adrianna Pattern Test

I was so excited to try out this pattern by Friday Pattern Company. If you liked the Adrienne top you are going to love this! The Adrienne top has been on my list for a while and a woven dress version sounded amazing.

I choose a Lady McElroy viscose challis from Oh! Sew shop. I loved the Deep In Thought print as soon as I saw it and this dress would be perfect for showcasing it.

Standard for all Friday Pattern Company patterns I have made, the instructions were straightforward and easy to follow. There are fabric estimates and layplans for 3 different fabric widths which I always find very helpful.

I decided to use a shorter elastic for the sleeve cuffs than recommended in the pattern, you all know I like a statement sleeve! And did a very small hem as I didn’t want to risk it becoming too short. Other than this I made every thing as stated on the pattern. I made a size small, my bust measurement is 35 inches and I am 5 ft 6. The fit was perfect around my bust and shoulders.

If I were to use a lightweight or sheer fabric again it would be easy to extend the facing to full length as a lining using the front and back pattern piece.

This pattern is perfect for beginners who want something a little different than the standard beginner patterns. The statement sleeves stand out and the loose flowy dress is easy to wear. It perfect with bare legs for warmer weather and tights or boots and a chunky cardigan when it’s chilly.

What I wasn’t expecting was to make this dress again in one of my most precious fabrics… my Gucci deadstock from Fabric Godmother. My sister got me this for my birthday last summer and I have been so scared to use it. The pattern had to be perfect before I would risk it.

But then inspiration struck and I realised this was the perfect pattern for it. The pattern pieces were all large so I didn’t have to worry about cutting through too many flowers.

As the fabric was sheer I had to be careful when constructing it. I left out the facing and used a strip of bias cut from silk organza I had bought for making press cloths. The effect was perfect and imitated the rest of the seams.

I am so happy I have finally used this fabric. I firmly believe that it is no use just sitting in my cupboard and can’t wait to wear this one!

The third version was again made from viscose, this time a floral print on a black base. I got this from The Dab Hand, a local online fabric store and pop up shop.

This was the second version of the pattern so was a little longer and slightly looser at the top. I took one inch off the hem but might take a little more after I have wore it a few times.

I had a few issues with getting the pattern printed (wrong version arrived and I didn’t realise until I had started cutting!) so had to adapt the sleeves to fit it all in. I like the loose sleeves but will probably add elastic in to have a short puff sleeve. I think it will balance out the loose shape of the dress with a more fitted sleeve.

This third version took me just over 2 hours to cut and sew. How amazing is that? This pattern is perfect for beginners and more advanced sewists looking for a quick make.

I can’t wait to make it again for summer… maybe even add a few Wilder Gown tiers and make it a maxi?

Happy sewing!

Sharlene x