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.
Sometimes we all fancy a bit of a change and it is very easy to alter the appearance of your Desdemona by simply changing the pleats. After all this is one of the reasons we make our own clothes – to wear what you want!
Changing the Inverted Box Pleats to Knife Pleats
Knife pleats are just pleats that all face in the same direction. So to change the inverted box pleats already part of the Version 1 Desdemona Skirt, to knife pleats is pretty straightforward.
First fold out the pleat lines on the pattern to create the inverted pleats.
Crease along the pleat lines and fold them into the centre. When you unfold the pleats in the paper pattern you’ll notice that you have creases that go up – peak folds and creases that go down – valley folds.
To make the knife pleats lead away from the centre front/back, (working from the centre front/back to the side seam) leave the first pair of peak/valley folds as they are. The next pair of valley/peak folds change – so the valley becomes a peak fold and the peak becomes a valley fold. This swaps direction of the pleat and turns both pleats into knife pleats. Repeat this for the second group of pleat lines.
If you wanted to change the direction of the knife pleats just fold them so they lay in the opposite direction. It really is that easy!
If you have the paper pattern folded the way the pleats are going to sit it will make it much easier to transfer this onto your fabric to make knife pleats all around the Desdemona Skirt. And you can just double check the pleats are in the correct position before you sew them in place.
You can also topstitch a short section along the leading edge of each pleat to help them stay flat too.
If you’ve ever seen us at a show then you will definitely have seen our mannequin dressed in the brightest Kate Dress imaginable (with coordinating Infinity Scarf). Now before we get to the matter at hand, if you’d like the fabric that this Kate is made up in then you can. It’s Laundered Linen Sulphur. Now onto the frill…
Take 2 x rectangular pieces of fabric. Depth approx 12cm (or however deep you want your hem plus seam allowance) and width approx twice the width of your hem. Measure your hem at front and double it, then measure the width of the back hem and double it.
Pin the short ends together. Hem one long edge by either overlocking and turning up by 1.5cm or turning up 1cm twice. This will be the bottom of the frill.
Sew two rows of gathering stitches around the top of the frill with your longest stitch length on the machine. Sew one just inside the seam allowance and one just outside.
Find the Centre Front and Centre Back and mark with a pin/notch. You can then pull the gathering stitches to fit around the hem of the dress. Pin the side seams and the Centre Front and Centre Back, then gather in between, pin and sew. Finish the seam and press.