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Dress/ Dressmaking

Red Jersey Dress

Not done a lot of sewing of late as I have been working on my new sewing studio, however I have just made up this Little Red Dress.

I used a Mc Calls Pattern M7016 and a red double knit jersey from my stash. It is a very simple design with a roll collar neckline, but I decided to give it a little personality by adding a couple of rows of double stitching along the front collar and the sleeves. This is very easy to do, you simply use a twin needle in your machine and 2 lots of thread.

Red4 Red3 Red2 Red1

Dress/ Dressmaking

The Power of Straight Stitching

I am singing in a choir concert tomorrow evening and of course like most of us ladies I absolutely ‘don’t have anything to wear’ for the occasion… ha ha!! We have to wear all black, long skirt and long sleeve top, so I consulted my ‘stash’ and came up with 1.5 metres of a lovely wool fabric, not quite enough fabric to make a long dress from so found a silk satin to go with it. I used an old Simplicity pattern 5591 again from my stash but made alterations to it along the way!

The entire dress was underlined using a silk georgette, I like to underline my garments these days as I think it adds quality to the finished garment and it also means that hems etc are not visible from the right side. 


For the front bodice I used the silk satin, but as this fabric is considerably lighter in weight than the wool fabric I backed it using some left over brushed cotton I had used on my wedding dress. I ‘quilted’ the two fabrics together simply by stitching straight lines from the centre front outwards, I used a black embroidery thread to do this to add a bit of shine. I also replicated this for the turn back cuffs.  


An invisible zip is inserted in the centre back seam and i used the satin for the sleeves and cuffs.

For a final bit of ‘bling’ I stitched black buttons with swarovski stones in the centre to the cuffs, centre front and down the back split.

I made a little poppy from some red organza for the night as the theme of the music is about remembrance and the sorrow of war!


Blouse/ Dressmaking


I had this piece of cotton fabric in my stash so decided to use it to demonstrate how to make a tailored placket to some dressmaking students, but rather than just use the same fabric for the placket I chose a plain black fabric which I thought would compliment and enhance the look. By using a 1/4″ fusible tape it makes the attachment of the placket so much easier and I think makes for a better finish.

So to finish the blouse (I hate leaving projects half done) I also used the plain black fabric for the undercollar and the facings for the cuffs. 

The blouse has a fly front opening which is highlighted with a ‘saddle’ stitch down the front using a black embroidery thread rather than just a plain straight stitch.


Coat/ Dressmaking/ Hats

Competition Coat

A few weeks ago I made a tailored coat from a multi-coloured fabric with piping on the seams and buttonholes etc, it took many hours to complete and I was rather proud of the result, I know some of you have seen it.  Well, I entered it into a competition in an American sewing magazine which I subscribe to and to my surprise it was selected as 1 of 5 semi-finalists. It is was the down to the public to vote for their favourite from the selected 5. 

I can’t tell you how thrilled I was at being chosen as a semi-finalist, and even more thrilled to report that I WON the competition with my coat. 

So thank you to all of you who voted for me. 

The Coat

I made this coat using my own drafted pattern and a length of fabric from my ‘stash’. The coat has been underlined with silk which gives it a luxurious weight and feel to it. I used horsehair interfacing for support adding additional layers to the shoulder area and the top back.

For the main body of the coat I used a quality textured fabric which graduates in colours from a mid-grey through to navy/black and back to grey. The fabric also has a ‘circle’ design with flecks of black on top.  The fabric was carefully prepared so that the design of the fabric flowed around the coat without interruption, matching up the colours and design at the seam lines. I added a raspberry/red piping to highlight the princess style design lines on the front and back of the coat, the collar, the side welt pockets, the sleeve back seam and at the top of the sleeve/shoulder area. I also used the piping for the bound buttonholes at the front opening and on the sleeves. The buttonholes are then further adorned with silver ornaments stitched alongside. The buttons are covered in the same fabric ensuring that the buttons graduate in colour to match each placement area on the coat.

Backpc P1080576 Shoulder detail 91498bc0-d0da-4a1d-aaf4-740259358896

The coat is fully lined using the same raspberry/red fabric as the piping for the main body of the coat whilst I used a grey silk for the sleeves. The lining is attached on the inside with a grey piping at the front and back neck facings edges.  And finally I embroidered my own label on the back neck facing.

P1080582 P1080580

Then finally I made a matching cloche hat with the left over pieces of fabric.


Dressmaking/ Jacket

The Making of a Chanel Style Jacket

On a recent fabric buying trip (yes I have lots of them) I purchased a length or two of fabric from Linton Tweeds. In case you are not aware, Linton Tweeds, up in Carlisle, have traditionally supplied the big designers including Chanel for many a long year, and the iconic Chanel Jacket was/is traditionally made using Linton Tweeds fabric. 

So, the only thing to do with my purchase is to make my own ‘Chanel’ style jacket……… here goes.

The Ingredients

I accumulated all the necessary ingredients together

Black & White check fabric for the jacket
White silk Charmeuse fabric, ordered from China
25mm Black trim for the edges
25mm grosgrain ribbon
Buttons for the front opening and sleeves
Silk thread for the construction
Chain for weighting the back
Cotton for the ‘Toile’


Before cutting into my expensive fabric I made a mock up of the jacket, (a toile) I was then able to make fine adjustments to the fit and shape of the jacket and transfer those adjustments to my paper pattern pieces.


The jacket front and back pieces where cut out from the black & white check fabric.


The white silk charmeuse fabric I will be using for the lining has winged its way all the way here from China and as you can image was a little creased after its journey, so I had to iron out all the creases before cutting the jacket lining out.


I used a ‘English Couture’ fusible interfacing for the centre front left and right pieces, removing the front seam and hem allowance from the interfacing before fusing.         


Use a piece of scrap cotton fabric on your ironing board to protect the board from the glue of the interfacing!    

Stabilise the centre front              

A 3/4″ cotton twill tape is added to the front opening seams to stabilise, give weight and support. The tape is pinned into place then stitched just inside the seam allowance making sure not to catch the face fabric. The tape must be equal in length on both sides of the front openings, this is checked by using the paper pattern as a guide. 



The centre front and front pieces are then stitched together. The fabric frays badly so must be handled with care!


The darts are stitched into the 2 back pieces, then stitched together down the centre back seam and pressed. 



Seams are carefully pattern matched and basted by hand.

The underarm pieces were stitched to the back. The back lining pieces were then constructed in the same manner.


Seams are pressed open then serge stitched down, this both keeps the seams flat and helps to prevent further fraying.


A back neck facing is fused to give support to the area and shaped using the iron.



With wrong sides together the lining was pinned to the centre back seam and permanently hand stitched into place. 

The lining is then opened up across the back, basted into position then quilted to the check fabric through both layers. This can be done by machine but I did not want the machine stitching to be visible on the right side of my jacket so chose to quilt it by hand. The front pieces were quilted in in the same manner.


Next is the pockets. I interfaced the inside of the fabric to give them strength and body. The grosgrain ribbon followed by the black trim was hand stitched to the pocket fronts. On the wrong side the seam allowances are turned in and serge stitched in place by hand. The lining is slip stitched into place, and invisibly stitched to the jacket fronts.

Pocket1 Pocket3 Pocket2 Pocket4


After a good pressing, the shoulder seams are machine stitched and serge stitched down.



Interfacing cut on the bias was fused to the hem to give it strength & support followed by the grosgrain ribbon and trim hand stitched to the right side front edges and hem. This alone took over 5 hours to do!


The hem of the lining was then hand stitched into place along the back.


I have spent about 35 hours on it so far and it is still  ‘Work in Progress’


Next to create was the collar. A strip a fabric is cut and steamed to shape the collar, this preserves the fabric design around the neckline whilst shaping at the same time. The seams were turned in and stitched down and hand stitched to the jacket.

collar3 Collar


The collar facing was prepared in the same way as the outer collar by steaming and shaping into the correct shape and hand stitched to the outer collar being careful as always in matching up the fabric design.


Then the sleeves. There are 3 pieces to this sleeve and they have to cut out precisely matching up the pattern of the fabric. The underarm piece was machine stitched to the front and back pieces, leaving the centre seam open. The seams are then hand serge stitched down for a neater finish. I fused some interfacing to the lower edge for support, turned in the seam allowances around the same and stitched the gros grain ribbon trim to the right side followed by the buttonholes. The lining sleeve pieces are then machine stitched together in the same way and  hand ‘quilted’ to the face fabric as previously done on the main jacket front and back pieces. They are then sewn into the jacket.

sleeves3 sleeves2 sleeves1


I created some ‘faux’ bound buttonholes for the inside of the front facings, hand stitching them to the worked buttonholes on the inside and to the interfacing. This makes them look neat from the inside. The front facings are then hand stitched into place along the front seam and hem,  and openings created for the buttonholes on the inside of the right hand facing.


The collar facing was prepared in the same way as the outer collar by steaming and shaping into the correct shape and hand stitched to the outer collar being careful as always in matching up the fabric design.

Chain Weight

Then a chain weight is stitched to the hem of the jacket, this helps to balance out the weight of the jacket and is traditionally added to all ‘Chanel’ Jackets.


Once the buttons have been sewn into place the last thing to do is to add my labels. The Linton Tweed label I stitched to the inside left facing and my own ‘Plumleia’ I stitched to the inside back facing.

Label2 Label1

After some 75 hours of work it is now FINISHED


Dress/ Dressmaking

Double Piping

Had another fabric buying ‘fix’ just recently and purchased this blue and pink stretch cotton. I used a Vogue pattern V1353, made it a little longer in the skirt, (I don’t have the legs for short skirts anymore!) and added a little more to the bodice length to accommodate my longer back measurement. 

Whilst constructing the dress I thought about adding a little piping around the neck and armholes thinking this would enhance the finish of the dress and pull out the colours, but I couldn’t decide whether to use blue or pink for the piping? 

So, I used both!! 

Bluepinkdresspiping V1353

Dressmaking/ Skirts

Zargreb Skirt

Well, I have now returned from our extended honeymoon holiday travelling around Europe. One of our stops was at Zargreb, Croatia, where I just couldn’t help myself and bought a couple of lengths of fabric. This is the first one made up into a summer straight skirt and because of its many colours it can be teamed with a number of coloured tops!

It will forever be known as my Zargreb skirt!

Dress/ Dressmaking/ Jacket

Sue & Ted’s Wedding

About 18 months ago I got engaged to my wonderful man, Ted, and since then I have spent many months thinking about and designing my own wedding dress. My engagement ring is an aqua marine and this was the deciding influence on the colour for my dress. 

The main body and skirt of the dress is made from a duchess satin with a lace underskirt decorated with pearl beads which just shows through at the front, I also used the lace for the 3/4 length sleeves and finished the edging around the neckline and top sleeve with more of the lace edging. The back has a laced up panel and by using 4 laces it created a lovely finish I think. It has a structured boned bodice with 12 boning channels and a hook & eye fastening at the back to keep it secure, it was very comfortable all day.

I was unsure of the weather and how warm or cold it might be on the day so I made a bolero jacket to go with it. I used piping to edge continuously around the collar and front and lower edges and also the shaped sleeves. I then added some lace inserts in the sleeves to reflect the skirt of the dress.

The dress and jacket is underlined with both silk organza and a brushed cotton for warmth and of course fully lined.

I also made some lace and fabric flowers which were added to my bouquet.

Dress/ Dressmaking

Sew Today Magazine

The Sew Today Magazine has a regular feature asking for readers to submit photos of garments that they have made and are proud of, well I was very proud of Tracy’s wedding dress so I thought I would submit some photos.To my surprise they are in this months magazine!! 

SewToday SewTodaydress