Those are words I never thought I would utter. After all I am a lady entering her middling years, more into comfort and style rather than ‘high fashion’.
There have been plenty of pictures floating around on social media this Spring/Summer of people wearing jumpsuits and looking amazing – but it really wasn’t for me!
Or so I thought!
After playing around in the studio with different shapes and trying to adapt existing patterns I was encouraged to “let go of your prejudice Jules, and just stick some trousers on it.” At first I wasn’t sure about the neckline, and it needed some kind of a sleeve, but in the end I got there and I have to say I am totally in love with this pattern. I spotted a lady at a show wearing something similar and she looked amazing so she became my inspiration. Shows are a fabulous opportunity for ‘style spotting’ and I love watching how people put together their own individual looks. (But that is a whole other blog.)
My initial concern about having to take everything off just to go to the loo were unfounded. I tested out the toile for a day wearing it around the studio to see for myself. It really isn’t that much hassle – I promise!
I chose one of our new Linen/Tencel mix fabrics as it had just the right amount of drape to it but was also substantial enough for trousers, that part gets a fair bit of wear and tear, and I just love the way it feels next to your skin. It’s so soft!
Navy can be a tricky colour to photograph so I used some top stitching to emphasise the style lines of the collar and pockets. I used white for this one for a slightly nautical air, but the next one will probably be in a soft denim with some yellow top stitching.
Pockets have to feature in more or less everything I make and Cressida is no exception. Cut-away pockets on the side seams and patch pockets on the back, mean you can go the whole pocket hog or just choose what’s right for you and the style and fabric you’re making your Cressida up in.
Someone has already called this pattern ‘Secret pyjamas’ and I think they could be right. This pattern is so comfortable to wear you might as well be wearing your PJs. It’s also very simple to alter too, if you need to shorten or add length to the body or trousers sections and I will be doing some tutorials to show you how easy that is.
I would strongly urge you to have a go and make your own Cressida Jumpsuit, especially if you’ve thought jumpsuits weren’t for you. You might surprise yourself.
Cargo pockets are utilitarian, solid-looking pockets. There are a whole range of variations that can be achieved but this one uses a pleated pocket with a flap. It is generally a good idea to make the flap about 6mm wider than the pocket, so that the flap will sit neatly over the pocket and the pocket will not be visible along the sides of the flap.
I drafted my own pattern, this one measures 31cm (width) & 24cm (length) with cut out square corners (2.5cm square). Draw a line down the centre (CF) and mark a line either side of this 5cm from the CF as the fold line. The size of the actual pocket will be 13.5cm (width) x 16.5cm (length).
The pocket flap is 16cm (width) x 9.3cm (at the centre front, longest point). The sides are 3cm smaller than the centre front. You will need to cut 2 pocket flaps, one is the lining, this is a chance to use a contrast fabric for the pocket flap lining.
Create a box pleat down the centre of the pocket piece . Finish the pleat by sewing a small distance along the pleat fold line at the top and bottom of the pleat. Press the pleat flat.
Fold under 1cm across the top edge of the pocket, then fold the top edge under again along the fold line, this creates the pocket facing. Topstitch along the bottom of the facing to secure it in place.
Press under the seam allowance of 1cm along the three remaining sides of the pocket. This will act as a guide later. Fold the pocket with the right sides together to pinch together the bottom corners. Sew across the corners. Trim off the excess fabric from the corners and turn the right way round.
Fold the seam allowance under the sides and base of the pocket and press in place to create a crease that runs around the front of the pocket. Edge stitch along each of these creases, stopping at the corners and starting again once the corner has been turned.
Mark out the pocket placement lines on your garment/ project and place the top of the pocket at the top placement line, line up the base of the pocket at the bottom points, and win pin in place. Make sure that the four corners of the pocket base are directly under the four corners of the front of the pocket. Edge stitch around the pocket base, pivoting at each corner before continuing.
A small rectangle or triangle can be sewn at the top corners of the pocket to reinforce the pocket opening.
Apply interfacing to wrong side of the pocket flap lining- the contrast fabric piece. The pocket flap lining should be just a fraction smaller than the pocket flap so trim it by a 1mm. This allows the lining to be eased onto the flap and ensures that the pocket flap has to roll under very slightly, keeping the lining hidden.
Pin the flap and the lining right sides together. Ease the lining so that it will fit the flap and all the raw edges are sitting flush. Sew around the the side and bottom edges of the flap, pivoting at the corners to keep them nice and sharp. Clip the excess fabric off the corners and turn the flap right side out. Poke out the corners and press flat, making sure that the lining is not visible from the right side. Topstitch around the sides and point of the flap.
Tack the open edge together through all the layers.
Place the pocket flap right side down on the right side of the garment along the placement line.
Stitch in place along the placement line and trim the seam allowance back by 6mm
Fold the pocket flap back down, press in place and topstitch the pocket flap down, enclosing the trimmed seam allowance.
Yesterday we had the pleasure of hosting Tracey, the winner of our VIP Day competition at the Sew Me Something studio .
Our VIP Days allow you to spend the entire day with Jules, picking her brain on whatever subjects you want to cover, whether it be fitting, pattern cutting or just general techniques. Tracey wanted to spend the day working on our Hero Trousers pattern and achieving the perfect fit.
“An absolutely amazing day with Jules learning how to make a pair of Hero Trousers that fit me. I’ve learnt so many tips and tricks, how to get a good finish and had some laughs along the way. Lovely stocked shop, beautiful location and a goody bag with two more patterns and haberdashery items. If you are thinking of doing a VIP Day – stop thinking and do it!”
We run VIP Days every month so if you’d like a taste of what Tracey has experienced find out more and book yourself a day (TIP: they are great for birthday and Christmas present lists!)
We regularly get asked if it’s possible to book a one-to-one with Jules, and up until now it hasn’t, but that’s about to change as we launch a VIP Day package for anyone wishing to get direct expert advice.
To celebrate the launch of our new VIP Days we’re offering one lucky person the chance to win their very own day with Jules on Thursday 4th July.
PRIZE PACKAGE INCLUDES:
A day to pick Jules’ brains and cover anything you want. It could be fitting advice, pattern cutting, how to master zips…absolutely anything!
Lunch (and there will be cake!)
20% discount on shop purchases
HOW TO ENTER:
To enter the competition and be in with a chance to win a day with Jules…
Follow us on Instagram and share our competition post
Follow us on Facebook and share our competition post
Competition closes at 11:59pm on 16th June 2019. COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER TRACEY HARPER!
It’s as simple as that. So good luck and we look forward to hosting our winner very soon! If you’d rather not wait to see if you’re our lucky winner and would like to book your day with Jules now, there are dates available.
Competition Terms & Conditions:
The VIP Day prize is only available and must be taken on Thursday 4th July. The option to move the prize to another date will not be available.
By winning and accepting the prize you will be agreeing to give a video testimonial on the date of Thursday 4th July which will be distributed across all Sew Me Something marketing collateral, including social media networks.
Regan is a simple but classic sweatshirt shape. A great all rounder and a pattern to make dressy or more casual depending on your fabric choices. It works brilliantly in both sweatshirt knits and in silky viscose rayon.
It has an open crew neck and the finished top sits just on your high hip. It is a slimmer fit than a lot of our patterns and will give you more of a paired down silhouette. This makes it perfect to wear with the Desdemona skirt or anything else that needs a shorter top for more balanced proportions.
The sleeves fall straight from the shoulders giving it a tapered more streamline look. But they are sewn in flat like a shirt sleeve making it a wonderfully quick and satisfying make.
All the openings are finished with a knit or rib band again making it a clean, neat finish and quick to sew as well.
Version 1 has a full length sleeve, and narrow band at the waist.
Version 2 has shorter sleeves with the ribbing band ending just above the elbow. The length in the body is slightly shorter to allow for a deeper waistband giving it a slightly retro look.
Our pattern testers have loved this pattern for its quick and easy sew and its versatility.
‘Construction wise this went together very easily and quickly and the fit is relaxed and comfortable. I made view one but am already planning my next one using view two’
I hope you enjoy making up your own Regan and do remember to share your pictures with us on social media. You can use the hashtag #SMSRegantop and we’ll be sure to comment and share.
Patch pockets are traditionally square-ish or rectangular in shape, but that doesn’t have to be so!
You can make a real feature of a pocket by making it circular.
Where you want to place your pocket will determine the size you want to make it. It could look very sweet as a small top pocket on a blouse or larger as a proper hand-sized pocket if you wanted to add your own twist to the Viola Skirt.
This is how we made ours:
We wanted a hand sized pocket so used a side plate as a template. You could use anything circular as your own template or even a pair of compasses (from your old school geometry set).
Draw around the template on some paper to create your pattern. To find the grain line just fold the circle in half, and the crease will be your grain line. You can then decide the angle you would like for the faux flap and draw that in too.
Cut out a pair of circles using the template and also a small piece of interfacing the size of the faux flap but just extended past the fold line slightly. This will help to support the folded over flap when you sew on the button later.
Attach the interfacing to the wrong side of one of the circles over the flap area. And then pin the two circles with the right sides together.
Sew around the circles starting and finishing at the bottom, but remember to leave a gap so you can turn the pocket through to the right side.
Snip out small V shapes all around the seam allowance. Leave the seam allowance un-snipped across the gap to make sure the snips don’t go too far.
Turn the pocket through to the right side and carefully press out the circle shape. Tucking in the seam allowance across the gap.
Fold over the faux flap and attach a button as decoration.
Edge stitch the pocket in place onto your garment making sure to secure the top corners.
We are taking our Retreats on the road in the hope that more people will be able to enjoy a weekend away and some time for themselves just sewing and chilling.
Cornwall here we come!
We have been trying to find a venue for our first retreat away from home and I think we have really come up with a humdinger!
Hendra Barns is not only beautiful it’s easy to find, and has everything we were looking for in a venue. It is set in the stunning Cornish countryside halfway between Newquay and Truro so you get the best of all worlds.
The accommodation is split into 3 areas, Hendra Barn, The Old Coach House and Little Hendra. All the rooms are different, some are have an en suite and some shared bathrooms, so they are all priced accordingly. Hendra Barn is the largest so we will all eat there together, but all of the other locations have their own kitchens so you can make your own coffee or tea just how you like, and relaxing lounge spaces too.
Hendra Barn has 3 double rooms (one with an en suite) and that is also where CL and I will be based. The Old Coach House has 2 double (one with an en suite) and a Twin room. And Little Hendra has one double and a twin room.
It is just the perfect place to relax and surround your self with nature and sewing machines!
Looking after yourself
In a hectic and busy world we often end up at the bottom of the list of people we look after. But if you’ve ever been on a plane and listened to the safety talk from the cabin crew we are told to put on our own oxygen masks first before helping anyone else. Having some time just for you, to re-energise yourself and find your focus is incredibly precious. And doing it with like-minded people who enjoy sewing as much as you do makes a huge difference.
Grief can take care if itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.
Not only can we share what we know we can learn from each other too. We have written more about why we have chosen to make it a residential retreat and what you can hopefully gain from it in another blog.
What to look forward to
Well apart from the stunning location and the fabulous accommodation and catering what can you look forward to when joining us?
Hendra Barns has provided us with an excellent sewing studio space in their function Barn that we will fully equip with sewing machines, overlockers, cutting tables and pressing stations. You can choose to bring your own machines if you prefer to work on something more familiar. Sometimes it’s just easier to use your own machines and we can help you set those up when you arrive on the Thursday evening.
Making what you want to wear
One of the things I really love about our Retreats is the freedom you have to make exactly what you want to. Unlike some who give a prescriptive list of what you are allowed to make, we are happy for you to bring along whatever project you want to work on. We will give you an idea of the types of things you’ll be able to achieve during the time we have together to give you an idea as to the projects you may wish to bring.
The wealth of expertise and experience Claire-Louise and I have means you can ask us anything. You can bring any project you are working on for help and advice. Obviously there are particular patterns that are more suited to a Retreat than others. You may want to consider bringing something that you can make up fairly quickly so you have that sense of achievement in getting something finished. Equally feel free to bring along something a bit more complex that you might need help and support with on particular techniques or the fit, but you’re not worried about finishing.
Helping YOU make the clothes YOU want to wear.
But really it’s all about helping you to make the clothes you want to wear. If you need help fitting or with specific techniques or processes, you’ll have the time and space to work through any issues or projects with expert help and tuition on hand if you need it. So you may want to nail the fit on that pair of trousers you’ve been wanting to make for ages. Or have a go on an overlocker and whizz up a Bianca coat before working on a couple of other projects. Or perhaps you want some space to cut a few projects out and then decide which to make – the choice is yours!
Take your sewing up to the next level.
There will be help and guidance on the machines when required and also we will be running a few Masterclass Demonstrations on some key processes we know are the ones people find tricky. If there is something you are really keen to cover, just let us know and we can include it in the Retreat. We will even be bringing some of the Sew Me Something Haberdashery with us in case you need any emergency supplies. But if you would like any of our fabrics for the projects you want to make up over the weekend you can always place an order online and we will bring it with us for you. So it’ll be at the Retreat ready and waiting for you.
This Retreat really will give you time to focus and relax.
There will be plenty of tea coffee and cakes to keep you sewing throughout the weekend and a fabulous wholesome and delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner each day too.
This time around we are introducing a more meditative element to the Retreats with Amy Williams from Next Wave Yoga. Amy is based in Cornwall and runs retreats herself. In fact Claire-Louise and I went on one last May and it was amazing! Amy will be leading a guided contemplation walk in the peaceful and calming countryside and some gentle yoga to help stretch out those tired muscles at the end of a day sewing. Both are purely optional of course but will certainly add to your whole sense of well being over the weekend.
What’s included in the Sewing Retreat….
A cuppa and cake on arrival
Help to set up your sewing machines if you’ve brought your own
Help to make your sewing plans for the weekend using our sewing planner
Use of all the sewing machines, overlockers and equipment from 9am to 6pm over the 3 days of the retreat
Hand delivered Sew Me Something orders of fabric and haberdashery
Expert help and advice on all your sewing projects
Expert help and advice on fitting and pattern alterations
All your meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as plenty or tea coffee and cakes to keep you going
Comfortable bedrooms for four nights
Guided contemplation walks and a yoga session each day
I am so excited about what a fantastic weekend this is going to be. I have tried to create the type of retreat I would love to go on myself. Don’t worry if you are thinking of coming on your own you will soon make friends and we will do all we can to look after you and make you welcome.
This is what some of our past Retreat Attendees have said about joining us. . . .
“Very enjoyable. Venue excellent. Jules and CL were fantastic. So patient, attentive and professional. As well and warm fun and friendly. Have left with a pattern block that fits!! Invaluable! I’m delighted!” Susan
“Great weekend! Learned loads! The trousers I made were great and fit perfectly. I just wish I’d had time to finish the Agnes top too. CL and Jules were so calm and knowledgeable – amazing mentors! Thank you for a great weekend.” Ruth
“There was a great atmosphere and the venue was lovely. Excellent support from both Jules and CL, and huge thanks to both. I learnt a lot of techniques which I wanted to learn. Thank you both for your calm expertise and generosity.” Kate
The beauty of making your own clothes is that you can mix ‘n’ match to get exactly what you want to wear. A pleated Desdemona would look fabulous with a button up front, and it’s easy to swap the gathers on Version 2 for the pleats of Version 1
Using the Pleats with the Button Up Front
You might notice that the skirt shapes on both Version 1 and 2 pattern pieces are slightly different. This is to cater for the button placket down the centre front on Version 2. The easiest way to combine the two is to use the pattern pieces for Version 2 but with the pleat marking from Version 1.
To transfer the markings line up the two front skirt pattern pieces at the side seams. Not the centre fronts as they will be different because of the button placket.
The trace through the pleat lines either with a pencil or a tracing wheel, so you have them on the Version 2 skirt front.
You can sew the pleats into place following the instructions for version 1, then carry on making the skirt up as for Version 2.