The Next Sewing Retreat and What’s Going to be Different

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Now the dust has settled from the last Sewing Retreat we’ve had a good think about what was successful and how we can improve things.

It was another fabulous weekend with some wonderful ladies making things to fit them and that they want to wear. We have already seen some of them back for more workshops too.

 

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Your feedback from the last two retreats has given us food for thought and we have decided to make some changes.

Save the Date for the Next Retreat

7th February – 10th February

Places are limited

 

Firstly we have changed venue. The next retreat in February will be at the glorious Stratford Manor Hotel. This beautiful hotel is just on the edge of Stratford on the Warwick Road, not far from the M40 turn off and a short taxi ride from Stratford upon Avon Station. It has all of the amenities we need including super comfy beds, lots of plug sockets, a pool and spa, where you can choose to book a treatment after a long day on your sewing machine. (It really does pay to do some stretches at the end of the day and a massage will definitely help!) It also has beautiful grounds to explore to get some fresh air and clear your head if you need a bit of headspace too. This is a RETREAT after all.

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We have also included an extra night at the hotel. Several of our past Retreaters did indeed arrive a day early and most others said how useful this would be; to be able to travel at leisure and be ready to start the next day.

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So for the next retreat in February you can arrive anytime you like on Thursday and check in Thursday evening. You can book dinner at the hotel separately or even go for a bit of a wander around Stratford upon Avon. If you’ve chosen to bring your own sewing machine you can unload everything and set up ready to start afresh on Friday morning.

 

Bit of planning was one of the things that cropped up after reviewing the chats we’ve had with the previous Retreaters, deciding what projects to make beforehand will really help you get more out of the weekend. So we will be letting you know what you should be able to achieve during the time we have and suggesting some patterns or projects you may like to consider. It’s better to have a couple of smaller quick and easy makes as well as something more meaty. We will be sending you out some handy checklists and ‘things to think about’ before you arrive to help you get the most out of the time we have together.

 

We have also decided to include some designated tutorial spots. Where we can demonstrate specific techniques and show you how to sew particular processes. Over the last two retreats there have been several people working on similar projects that needed support on the same things, like concealed zips or particular fitting techniques. So it makes sense to be able to cover those as a whole group, or even two smaller groups, at specific times over the weekend. That way you will be equipped to tackle more independently, but know we are there to help if you need us. You can let us know in advance if there is something you would like us to cover.

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And lastly but I think most importantly we have decide to reduce the numbers. Now there are only 12 places. This means you will have much more 1:1 time with both of us and we will all feel part of a whole group of lovely individuals who are just nuts about sewing and creating a handmade wardrobe of clothes we really want to wear.

This, I feel, is really what the weekend is all about. It’s a bit of time away from everything else spent with people who get what sewing your own clothes means to us as individuals. It is a retreat from the world , albeit temporarily, and a bit more than just a workshop.

We do appreciate there is a cost attached to this weekend so we have made it easier to pay in installments. A deposit of £220 will secure you place and then two further payments will cover the balance.

Book Your Place NOW!

So you can come and join us for a wonderful weekend where you will improve your sewing, and that’s guaranteed!

Remember there are only 12 places and we have a waiting list from the last one too. So book early to make sure you can join us.

See you soon.

Jules x

 

Sewing Quarter – 11th September Viola and Rosalind

Several people have asked where they can watch the episodes of the Sewing Quarter that feature Jules and the Sew Me Something Patterns, so we have decided to add them as pages to our Blog so you can find them more easily.

Click on the image and it’ll take you to the Sewing Quarter You Tube Chanel. So you can watch Jules in action.

The Viola Skirt starts 13.01 and the Rosalind Pyjama starts at 2.00.04.

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You can order your own Viola Skirt and Rosalind Pyjama from our online store.

Happy Watching!

Sewing Quarter – 2nd October 2018 Julia and Portia

Several people have asked where they can watch the episodes of the Sewing Quarter that feature Jules and the Sew Me Something Patterns, so we have decided to add them as pages to our Blog so you can find them more easily.

Click on the image and it’ll take you to the Sewing Quarter You Tube Chanel. So you can watch Jules in action.

The Julia Top starts 17.56 and the Portia Trousers starts at 2.09.14.

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You can order your own Julia Top and Portia Trousers from our online store.

Happy Watching!

Enjoying the Good Life

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This little blog has been somewhat delayed so apologies.

This was a return visit to the Good Life Experience for us. Last year was the first time I had visited this little pocket sized festival of joy and went with @thetallphotographer as his assistant. Well not that I actually know one end of a camera from the other but I was very good at carrying stuff! And we absolutely loved it!

So this year we decided to return, Charlie doing his photo thing and me running sewing workshops. Yes we were sewing in a tent!

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Our sewing studio in a very big tent.

We packed up a few machines, fabric, scissors and anything else we could think of and headed for North Wales.

I tried to think of something beautiful yet practical that would be handy to have at a festival, but that would also be easy to sew as well for complete newbies and I came up with a Festival Bag! This handy little gem was made in either robust demin or practical dry oil cloth to keep out the damp. It was fully lined with some simple calico and fastened with a clip buckle. AND you had a choice of colours for the webbing straps. What’s not to love. (It will be available as a pdf pattern very soon.)

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Even complete beginners managed to make their own festival bag!

It was rather popular and we even had one young lady come back to make another one for her Dad.

We had our youngest ever workshop attendee, little 3 year old Joshua who was very intent on making his own bag without his Dad’s help. My lovely chum Claire-Louise came along to the festival too and popped in to help. She was great and had so much patience with this young man while I helped the others in the workshop to sew their own bags.

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CL at her most patient with our youngest ever workshop attendee.
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A very proud and happy young man.

The whole weekend was a joy! And although I was teaching during the day I didn’t miss out on the evening’s entertainment. The highlight for me was Friday night with DJ Trevor Nelson taking me back to my clubbing days and throwing some shapes on the dancefloor with CL.

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Rather too much of the superbly delicious Rhubarb & Ginger Gin produced by the Harwarden Estate was consumed that night too. But the morning after was worth the night before!  

One of the reasons I love this festival so much is that there is so much to see and do.

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You can have a go at screen printing…
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…a bit of extreme knitting…
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…try spoon whittling…
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…or Thai Chi.

 

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There’s camp fire cooking…
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…and really interesting talks from people like Ben Fogle.
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And one I want to try next year – Fire Walking!

We topped off the weekend with a delightful meal at the Glynne Arms Pub in Hawarden village for Charlie’s birthday. A bit of a Busman’s Holiday for me but I thoroughly enjoyed the whole weekend.

 

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Claire-Louise and me completely pooped after a blast of a weekend.

And its all due to these lovely people Charlie and Caroline Gladstone (that run Pedlars) who along with Cerys Matthews (yes from Catatonia) and her husband Steve Abbott founded this delight of a festival. It’s ethos is something that resonates with both Charlie and I, particularly since the last time we were here our lives have changed quite considerably following Charlies accident! 

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Charlie and Caroline Gladstone whose fabulous home Hawarden Castle hosts the Good Life Experience.
All pictures by The Tall Photographer

Now we are planning on how we can do it better and what we can make on more Festival Workshops. If you go to festivals do let me know which ones you enjoy and what would YOU make at a festival? Would it be practical and useful? Or just fun?

Hopefully you can join us next year, but get in quick as tickets are going like hot cakes!

Happy Festival Going!

Jules x

 

We are Hiring!

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Are you always the ‘organised one’ in your friendship circle or at work? Are you always sorting out every detail of your life, from booking dinners to sorting out travel arrangements? And do you find yourself secretly enjoying it?

Then we need you!

Sew Me Something is seeking a reliable Office Administrator.

Someone who is motivated and highly organised to help coordinate and maintain the smooth running of everything behind the scenes. 

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Job Title: Office Administrator

Hourly Rate:                      Commensurate with experience

Contracted hours:            Mon – Fri 9:30am – 3:00pm (but could increase to full-time)                        with some weekends

Overview

The main focus of Sew Me Something is to help people, and this should be yours too. It is important to go that extra mile and put a smile on someone’s face to brighten up their day. 

This role is an integral part of our team and you will need to be able to work alongside others but also be happy to work on your own, undertaking administrative tasks to ensure the team has adequate support to work efficiently.

You will need to have excellent organisational and communication skills, be able to work unsupervised, be quick learner and used your own initiative to prioritise tasks. 

We have regular meetings to monitor the progress of the business so you will need to be approachable and friendly, but equally able to voice your opinion if you can see a better way of working. 

Flexibility is also key within this role. Although your hours will be mainly during the working week, we attend a number of exhibitions and shows throughout the year and your participation in some of those will be required.

This position is currently part-time, but there will be scope for increasing the hours and level of responsibility in due course.

 

Main Duties

Fulfil online orders accurately and timely to meet the high standards our customers expect for service and delivery. Completing the necessary paperwork to maintain accurate online sales records and communicating directly with customers as and when required.

Maintain and add to our CRM system to enable us to track sales and bookings.

Sorting and taking the post. This will mean driving to the local post office at times. 

Receiving and booking in new stock items, photographing new products and uploading them onto the online store.

Help with printing and packing our patterns.

Maintaining and monitoring the online store to ensure its accuracy.

Assist with the implementation of advertising and promotional strategies and activities including social media – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

Assist with the preparation of resources and studio space for up coming workshops and other events.

Attend exhibitions and shows helping to set up and breakdown the stand as well as speaking to the public about our products.

 

Education / Qualifications

Essential:  Excellent Numeracy and literacy qualifications,

Clean Driving license

Desirable:  Fashion, Textiles, Sewing or Pattern cutting qualifications.

 

Skills and Knowledge

Essential:   Excellent verbal and written communication skills.

Excellent knowledge of office software applications, Mac or PC

An understanding of social media platforms – including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest

Desirable:  Working knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite – Illustrator or InDesign

Regular user of social media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest

 

To apply please email your C.V. and a covering letter to

Jules Fallon at jules@sewmesomething.co.uk.

Closing date for applications will be 23rd September 2018.

What Are We Doing Now?

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Most of you probably know by now that we have moved out of the Minories Courtyard in Stratford upon Avon to a much bigger studio about a mile or so from the town centre, although we are still getting a few calls asking “Where have you gone?” 

So I thought I would explain and clarify what we are doing now.

This may seem a bit odd because we are still doing what we have always done, running friendly and inclusive workshops where we share our knowledge to help you to sew better to make the clothes you want to wear, designing and producing stylish dressmaking patterns, and providing you with high quality fabrics and haberdashery items.

But we are doing it a in slightly different way now. . . .

The high street is changing and I know it’s annoying and frustrating when you can’t find what you want in the shops in your local town, and I am with you. The choice and variety of shops in Stratford is reducing and we have to look to much larger towns now for most of our retail fixes, but it’s going to continue to change and we as businesses have to recognise that and adapt.

That is one of the main reasons we decided to move ‘out of town’, another being that there just wasn’t anywhere big enough to accommodate us within our budget in the town centre.

But this has brought its advantages, every cloud and all that. It has meant that we had to think about what we do overall, what we do best and how we use this to take Sew Me Something into the future, because we plan on being around for a while yet.

My original plan when I set up Sew Me Something was as a vehicle for me to produce patterns. I am a pattern cutter and would happily design and produce patterns all day everyday and not get bored – EVER!

So the original shop was a marketing tool and platform from which to launch the pattern range. Workshops were a bit of a sideline to attract people to the shop where they could buy the patterns.

Well that was the original plan!

Over the 6 years we have been going now the popularity of our workshops has grown hugely.

Without blowing our own trumpet too much, teaching is something we do extremely well. People have travelled hundreds of miles to do our workshops, and we have ladies that have been coming to them ever since we opened. So the proof must be in the pudding, or in our case the cake, as we have been keen right from the beginning to be as inclusive as we can and to make people feel very welcome.

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To this end, teaching and running workshops has become the biggest area of our business. And this is wonderful, I never imagined that this would be the case, but it just shows how your ideas and directions can change.

I also never imagined that we would have our patterns on the telly. The Sewing Quarter have been amazing in their support for our patterns and I have really enjoyed being on screen chatting sewing.

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Again this has made us rethink the patterns that we are able to offer and what we want do in the future as our audience grows and we want to help more people to be able to make stylish clothes that fit.

You can see now that the emphasis of the business of Sew Me Something has altered from its origins. This has meant that the retail side of what we offer has changed too. As with so many high streets, footfall has reduced and the same is happening in Stratford upon Avon. It’s a beautiful town but one that has, for better or worse, decided to dedicate itself to the income derived from tourism. This has changed what the town has to offer, and along with other decisions made by the Powers That Be, fewer locals are shopping in Stratford itself, including me.

By moving away from the town centre and losing a ‘shop front’, this has allowed us to focus on what we do best, which is provide excellent levels of teaching in our workshops, to design and produce stylish and creative dressmaking patterns that allow you to challenge yourself while making a handmade, personal wardrobe. And we can support your making by providing you with high quality fabrics and haberdashery either during our workshops or through our online store.

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All of this, I hope, explains why we are not just a walk in shop anymore. We do understand if you’d prefer to come and see us in person and that’s not a problem at all, just let us know by phone or email when you’re coming as we may be teaching, or designing new patterns, or shooting a video, or even printing patterns for the next Sewing Quarter show.

Or any of the other stuff we do to help you to sew better and make the clothes you want to wear.

You can find all of our contact details on our contact page, here. And I hope you can join us for a workshop very soon. 

Jules x

 

Sewing Quarter – 22rd August 2018 Imogen and Cordelia

Several people have asked where they can watch the episodes of the Sewing Quarter that feature Jules and the Sew Me Something Patterns, so we have decided to add them as pages to our Blog so you can find them more easily.

Click on the image and it’ll take you to the Sewing Quarter You Tube Chanel. So you can watch Jules in action.

The Imogen Top starts 17.58.00 and the Cordelia Dress starts at 2.06.04.

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You can order your own Imogen Top and Cordelia Dress from our online store.

Happy Watching!

Making More From Your Patterns – How to alter a woven pattern to make up in knit fabrics

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My Celia Top in Striped Apart Pink Jersey.

One of the ‘frequently asked questions’ that often comes my way is whether you can use the same pattern for wovens and for knits.

In effect is it possible to make Kate or Celia and some of our other patterns in a jersey knit fabric too.

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The Kate Dress and Celia Tops were both designed to be made out of woven fabrics such as linen or cotton lawn. Nice sensible, stable woven fabrics. But they do make up beautifully in jersey knits too.

So the answer to this question is –  ‘Yes, BUT…”

Here are a few things you might want to consider before taking the plunge:

  • The best patterns to use as a crossover from woven to knits are pretty simple shapes that have no darting through the waist, so both Kate and Celia tick those boxes.  
  • Choose your knit fabrics carefully. Anything with too much stretch will probably not work. A more stable jersey or something that will hold its shape and have a good return will give you a better result. The Art Gallery fabrics we have in store are the perfect cross-over fabrics.
  • Jersey or knit fabric clothing tend not to have darts, even at the bust. It is a very simple alteration to remove, or partly remove, the bust dart. All you need to do is fold out the dart all the way across the front. (There is more information below so read on).
  • Woven patterns require a lot more ease than knit ones do. So you may find that you need to drop down a size or even two.
  • Knit garments are made up slightly differently in that the sleeves are sewn in flat, like a shirt sleeve, and then the sides seams sewn. This means you have a chance to judge how much ease to allow and you can take it in through the side seams if need be.
  • You may need to finish the neck slightly differently too. I tend to go for a very simple neck band and you can see how to work out how big to make the band in the Woven Peaseblossom Tutorial.

 

This is how I pleated out the bust dart.

Mark on the seam allowance at the side and then draw parallel lines across the front level with the ends of the darts. Then fold the pleat out so the lines match up removing the dart.

Showing how to pleat out a dart in a woven pattern for knit fabric

Tidy up the side seam to remove the point at the edge of the dart.

How to pleat out the dart on a woven pattern for knit fabrics

But… and this is one of those big buts, if you have a fuller bust you may wish to keep part of the bust dart in place to give you a bit more shaping over the bust.

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I have a fuller bust and frequently have to do an FBA, so I felt I needed to retain some of the dart to give a better fit. All I did was pleat out half the dart and then redraw in the dart.

I made this one a teeny bit longer and left off the frill at the hem. But you can change and adapt your pattern to suit you. That is the beauty of making your own clothes.

I hope you give the adaptation a go and I’d love to see the results so do tag us on social media.

Jules x

 

Why a Retreat is All or Nothing

Sewing Retreat Feb 2018 Web Images-0020I have been asked, more than once, regarding our own Sewing Retreat if people “could just come along for the sewing bit without the accommodation or meals?”.

Maybe they live too close to Stratford to warrant staying somewhere else, or would prefer to not to stay overnight, whatever the reason it’s a perfectly valid question. And I could say ‘yes come and join us”.

But that would be missing the point. This weekend is a retreat, albeit a sewing retreat, but a retreat nonetheless.

Retreats, regardless of whether it happens to be a sewing retreat, a yoga retreat or even a religious retreat, are different from a normal workshop environment. Everyone is together for the duration of the retreat and separate from their normal lives.

The word retreat is derived from the Latin verb retractus which means –  “to pull back”.

So a retreat is a place where you pull back from the world.

This is perhaps the main reason for going on a retreat.

But here are 10 reason why I think retreats are important and different to normal workshops.

They help you to:

  1.   Pull Back

This is a strategic retreat. Almost in a military sense, and sometimes, as with all military campaigns a strategic withdrawal gives us time to reassess.

Pulling back from life allows us the time and space to gain a new perspective, you can re-group, and re-energise.

Gather your forces and refocus your energy onto something you love. You can find new inspiration and then put that into action.

Just getting away from it all; life, work, families, gives you the time you need to focus on what inspires you.

 

  1.   Find Space

Space can mean time. Time away from all the constraints and interruptions we face on a daily basis.

A whole block of time, not just dipping your toe into a bit of ‘me time’, but a whole chunk of free time to yourself.

More time than you would spend in a normal workshop.

Time to fully immerse yourself in what you are doing.

You might find that you need a bit of clear head space to work out why things aren’t working a well as you’d hoped. What alterations you need to do to a specific pattern for example.

Or you may literally need space to cut out fabric for certain projects.

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  1.  Be Inspired

Having that head space allows you the freedom to focus on what excites and inspires you.

We are all creative in our own ways and finding the time and space away from everything else allows you to alter your thinking and find new ways to reignite those sparks of creativity.

Spending time with other people who love doing what you do and seeing what they  make can install a renewed vigour into your own sewing too.

 

  1.  Listen

What do you hear? Hopefully you can hear yourself at last above the hubbub of daily life.

What do you enjoy doing, making, reading? On a retreat there will be others willing to listen to you too.

You may even find others worth listening to. And their stories may enlighten and inspire you in your own sewing practice.

 

  1.  Detox

Everyone needs to unload, clean out and empty their mental desktop.

You will leave a retreat lightened, clearer, recharged, refreshed, and better equipped to deal with any sewing or fitting issues that crops up.

Because you will have a new perspective on how to deal with the problems you arrived with.

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  1. Lose The Fear

So many times I have heard people say “Oh I don’t make anything with zips in” or “I avoid buttonholes”.  

Being fearful of trying something outside your comfort zone is perfectly normal.

But being in the safe and supportive environment of a retreat with expert tuition will allow you to learn to overcome those fears through practicing and making mistakes.

It’s only sewing! Make friends with your unpicker.

 

  1.  Remember Who You Are

In our daily life we are so many things to so many people, wife, husband, parent, child, friend, lover.

We need to be reminded that we are also individuals.

You can ditch all the other roles you have and just focus on being a better dressmaker, sewist or sewer. What ever you prefer to describe yourself as.

 

  1. Find your Tribe

We are all the same yet all different too.

On a retreat you will meet people who, like you, find joy in creating sewn projects.

You don’t have to justify your stash of fabric or vintage patterns. The seriousness of which is taken as a given.

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  1. Help others

When you take time away from your life, those in your life get time away from you too.

This brings appreciation. They realize what it’s like when you’re not around, to work, cook, clean, love them.

Without you taking up your usual place, people will shift their roles to fill that space and life takes on a new shape. Life is actually different when you return and you are free to take up a new space within it.

This is growth.

 

  1. Establish a Routine

Trying to find time to sew in an already busy daily schedule can be very hard. If you have a space at home to leave everything out and setup it’s much easier, but if you don’t making time and space can be nigh on impossible.

Listening and learning from others will help you understand how you can fit time into your own life back at home.

Establishing ways of working on a retreat is much easier as you are encouraged by the example of others.

You go back home and re-establish your life in a new way to accommodate your sewing.

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Retreats are important because people have time to spend on themselves and leave rested, happier, clearer and having learnt new skills and techniques.

Who doesn’t want some of that?

You can join us on our next Sewing Retreat in August 

 

Making More of Your Patterns : A Sleeveless Kate

Kate is just the most perfect dress for this hot weather as it’s infinitely hackable.

This is how you can adapt the pattern to make a sleeveless version just right for the long hot Summer days.

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Pattern alterations

The pattern needs a little bit of tweaking as the armholes are designed to take a sleeve.

First of all a I drew on the seam allowances around the armholes and across the shoulders. This makes it easier to see where and how the alterations need to be made.

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The shoulder point on the pattern needs to be brought in slightly so the arm hole sits better over the ball of the shoulder.

As the Kate Dress has a visible binding to finish the neckline this works well around the armhole too. But it means that the edge of the paper pattern will be the finished edge of the dress, with the binding wrapping itself around the cut edge of the fabric. Something to bare in mind!

First  I matched up the shoulder seams to make sure that both the armhole and neckline alterations were nice smooth flowing curves.

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For this dress I wanted to widen the neckline slightly too. So I made a mark 1.5cm in from the neck edge and then redrew the neckline curve blending it in to the original line.

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The shoulder point was moved in by 3cm and as it is going to be an open armhole I wanted to raise the underarm point a bit too so it would be too gapey.

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I raised the underarm point by 1.5cm so it was level with the cut edge of the pattern piece, then re-drew the armhole from the raised armhole point on the front to the new shoulder point, and around to the back underarm point.

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I cut the pattern through the new armhole and neckline while the paper was still pinned together to make sure the lines followed true.

I also lengthen the pattern by 10cm to make it more dress length than tunic length. I did this directly on to the fabric as I pinned out the pattern pieces.

Making it up

The Kate Dress has two options for the front of the dress. Plain and simple or with a bit of gathering at the centre front neckline.

As I am more than amply catered for in the bosom department I usually opt to go for the version with a bit of extra gathers just to make everything a bit more comfortable around the bust. You can do a Full Bust Adjustment too if you prefer.

Gathers are a form of ‘suppression’ and like their confederates; pleats, tucks and darts, basically just suppress the extra fabric to create a 3D shape. They can be interchangeable too.

For this dress I wanted a flatter finish at the neckline but to keep that bit of extra fullness in the fabric. So I turned the gathers into an inverted box pleat, a bit like the one I created in the Woven Peaseblossom Hack

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An inverted box pleat on the woven Peaseblossom

The additional fabric is marked on the Front pattern piece and I marked this onto the fabric.

Kate Sleeveless pattern hack front inverted box pleat pleat

I measured down 20cm as I wanted the opening of the pleat to be just below bust level, and marked this as the base of the pleat. I stitched along the new pleat line and then pressed the pleat open evenly to create the inverted box shape.

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It can be a little bit fiddly doing it on one this little but it’s worth getting it neat.

The rest of the dress was made up in exactly the same way as a normal Kate Dress. The pockets were bound across the top edge and sewn in place.

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I know you can hardly see the pockets here, no contrasting top-stitching this time.

The armholes were finished in the same way as the neckline. I measured the armhole first to work out how much bias binding I would need. 

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I used a visible binding finish, to matched the neckline. And it was sewn in exactly the same way as the neckline and pockets.

This is a simple and easy pattern hack to do. I hope you give it a go and make several Kates for the Summer.

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Happy Sewing!

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