Friday, 23 June 2017

Ida Clutch Bag

I have something a bit different to show you today, which is this little clutch bag that I made for my sister, who absolutely loves it.  I first spotted it on Instagram when Kirsten from Fifty Two Fancies made it, and instantly though that my sister would like it.


The pattern is called the Ida Clutch Bag, and is a free pattern from Kylie And The Machine.

One of the bags on the introduction page is leather, as is Kirsten's, and I really loved them, so decided to give it a go myself.  

Much googling finally brought me to Leather4Craft on ebay, where I bought some veg-tan goat skin leather for £22.00.  It came as a rectangle of leather, which I stupidly forgot to measure, and is lovely and soft.  There was more than enough for this little bag.

More googling was done on cutting and sewing leather.  I used my rotary cutter to cut it out, and pattern weights to hold the pattern piece down.  I say pattern weights, it was really my phone and some masking tape...

You can maybe, sort of, judge the size of the leather from this photo.  There was enough leather to the top to cut out another pattern piece, and there was a bit left over that is probably about half as wide as the bit that my rotary cutter is sitting on.

Sewing the leather turned out to be a lot easier than I thought, but leather needles are a must.  I practised a dart on some scrap leather first, and my machine handled it beautifully.  Sewing leather is a bit of a one shot deal, you don't want to be unpicking, and my walking foot was great.

I marked the point of the dart with a pin, which left a little hole in the leather, then clipped the dart ends within the seam allowance.


I marked the dart legs with a pencil on the wrong side of the leather.


I obviously couldn't use pins on the leather, as they would leave little holes, so I used a mini clothes pegs to hold everything together.  Quilting clips would be great, but I don't have any.


 This is what the darts look like from the wrong side,


And this is the right side.


The instruction page on the interfacing mentions that the sample leather bag is interfaced (I think it's in the comments), but I was a bit too scared to try that!  So I just interfaced the lining.  I used a medium weight interfacing for the whole bag lining (Piece B), and then a woven interfacing on top for Piece C.

I added an inside pocket, and made it as big as I could without interfering with the darts.  It's big enough for a phone.

Next came inserting the zip, and the instructions for it are brilliant.  I didn't take any photos of it, but here's what it looked like when it was finished. 

The pin in the photo above is marking the tailor's tack for the snap placement, which leads me on to attaching the snaps.  I wasn't looking forward to this, because I was afraid of ruining the leather.  But some more googling showed me how to do it.  

Everything I read called for interfacing, but, as already mentioned, I didn't want to interface the leather.  So I didn't use any, and it's grand.  Here's what I did.

First of all, I practised on a leather scrap!  The snaps have two prongs on the back that are secured with a little washer.   

I stuck a pin through the lining and leather where the tailor's tack was (the tack was just in the lining), to mark the snap position on the leather.  Then I used the washer as a template, and marked the position of the prongs with a pen (making sure it wouldn't bleed through to the front!).
Admire that lovely top stitching!

Then I snipped into the leather using some embroidery scissors.

The prongs on the snap go through the holes from the front, then it is held in place with the washer.  I just put it through the leather, so the snap is not visible on the inside of the bag.

Here's what it looks like from the right side.

I did the same with the other snap, and here's what it looks like when it's closed.

As suggested in the instructions, I sewed the edges of the bag with a zipper foot.  It was tricky to get over the closed end of the zip, and I ended up just turning the hand wheel.

I'm delighted with how this little bag turned out, and leather definitely isn't as tricky to sew as I thought.

Now I sort of want to make a leather purse...  Have a great weekend,


Friday, 16 June 2017

Hemingway Designs fabric dress

This dress was inspired by Vogue 8577 after I saw a gorgeous version on Instagram made by Becky from Studio Snippets.  Becky's version was made from some Hemingway Designs fabric, which made me recall the Hemingway Designs fabric I had in my stash that I bought from Marie from A Stitching Odyssey during a de-stash a couple of years ago.



My dress is self-drafted, and I used the gathers at the shoulders and the big pockets.  I left out the separate waist piece, back shoulder yoke and centre back seam.


The bodice was easy to draft, I just rotated the bust dart into the shoulder and gathered it instead of sewing a dart.  Ignore the lines at the shoulder seam, I was trying for pleats but it didn't work out.

The pockets are copied from Simplicity 1610 (which I made here), and I always loved the pockets on this dress.  The pocket is made in one piece - the outside curve is sewn right sides together.  (Please excuse my fluffy carpet in these photos!).

Seam allowance is trimmed, clipped, pressed and understitched.

From the wrong side of the skirt, the pocket is folded back on itself to line up across the top and the side seam.

It's sewn in place across the top and side seam, then the bottom of the pocket is sewn.  I overlocked it in this photo.

And this is what it looks like from the right side. I cut the pocket piece on the same grainline as the skirt, so the print would be in the same direction.

I forgot to take into account the seam allowance on the waist dart, and the pocket edge and dart are about 5mm out.  This is not the end of the world, and the busy print hides it!  I have fixed it on my pattern though.



The smug face of someone who loves their pockets!

My buttons are from Textile Garden, and are called Corozo buttons.  Apparently they are made from nuts, and they are lovely!

I love how this dress turned out, especially the pockets - I predict more of these pockets in my future!  And here's a photo with my cat, Luke, attempting to photobomb me!!

Have a great weekend,


Monday, 5 June 2017

Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book - Strapless Party Dress

I've something a bit different to show you today.  This is the strapless bodice and three-quarter circle skirt from "Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book", and if you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the progress photos.

This hasn't been made for any specific reason, other than I really wanted to make it!  I got the idea in my head last summer and it rattled around for a bit, but I managed to talk myself out of it.  Then the idea crawled back into my head after I saw this gorgeous dress that Gertie herself made at New Year using the same bodice, and this fabulous dress made by Janene from Ooo Bop.  

It seems I have a lot to say about this dress, so I'm going to break it down. 

Yes, I did use a piece of fabric as a book mark...

Turns out the sizing on this pattern is a bit off.  The size 6 was the closest to my size, but I traced sizes 6 and 8 together to be on the safe side.  I marked in the seam allowance on the skirt, and measured it - and it was too small!

So I through it out to Instagram, where, yet again, sewists came up trumps!  Lots of lovely sewists said they too had issues with the sizing in this book, and had to size up.  And one kind lady said she had attended one of Gertie's sewing classes (lucky thing - not jealous at all!), and Gertie herself said the sizing was out.  So I went back and traced a size 10.


A toile was made, and it was too big around the neckline.  I think I took about 3 inches out around the neckline, but I've lost the bit of paper that I wrote it on!  This bodice was really easy to adjust though, because of the princess seams.  I took a tiny bit off the seams at the waist too, maybe about 1/16" off each one.


So I was ready to put scissors to fabric, which is a good time to tell you what the fabric is.

The main fabric is a cotton/linen mix from Fabrics For Sale that has been in my stash for a while.  I had 3 metres of it, and cut the skirt back with the centre back along the grainline, so have a metre and a bit left. 

The bodice is underlined with some green cotton from ebay, and I also used it for the skirt lining.

Inside of the bodice with the underlining.

The bodice lining is some cotton that came from Sew N Sew in Belfast.  I then added the horsehair braid along the top of the neckline, as in the instructions in the book.  This is it in green in the photo below.

The bodice and lining are then attached at the neckline, and understitched.  I decided to add a decorative stitch along the neckline too, for no over reason than I liked it.


Bodice Boning

No going to lie, this was the bit I was scared of.  But you know what?  It was really easy, and great fun!  Now I want to make all the things with steel spiral boning!! 

I ordered the boning and tips from Sew Curvy.  I also wanted the Tubular Boning Tape for putting the boning in, but it was out of stock.  So I used a tip I saw on a Craftsy class called Couture Dressing Making Techniques with Alison Smith.  It was to make some bias tape, but cut it on the straight grain, and not the bias grain, then use this as the channel for the boning.  Here's what it looks like.


I wasn't sure how much boning to use, or how many channels to add.  There are a few dresses in the book that use this bodice, and there were a different amount of channels in each one.  I decided to just go for it, and add them all!

Next came cutting the boning - I put this off for a few days...  Turns out it's my new favourite thing!  My top tip is to use good wire cutters.  Unfortunately I can't tell you where my wire cutters came from, or even a brand name - I just found them in a drawer in our garage.  


I wasn't too sure about how to attach the tips, and found this video on youtube.  I followed it exactly, and it worked like a charm. 


Skirt and Zip
Attaching the skirt and skirt lining was easy, and I added some pockets because, why not?


I used a lapped zip, which I recommend basting in first.  Learnt that one the hard way...


Here's what the three-quarter circle skirt looks like laid out on the floor, it's pretty big!

Then I tried it on, and it was gaping a bit at the neck!  So I did the sensible thing, and set it aside for a day or two to think about it.  I decided to move the zip over a bit at the top to bring the neckline in a bit, but I soon realised that that wouldn't work because I needed to move the zip over too much.  Then I thought I could sew some elastic across the inside of the neckline to pull it in a bit.  That didn't work either.

I recalled reading a bit in the book about sewing in bra caps, and found some on ebay.  This YouTube video shows how to sew them in using a thread chain, which would normally be used to attach a lining to a skirt near the hem.  This made a big difference, and I think really helps with the shape of the bodice too.  Ultimately though, I think the bodice is slightly too high, so therefore too long.  Having looked at the strapless bodice photos in the book, they seem to sit a little bit lower.  You can see that it is collapsing a bit at the bottom of the centre front of the bodice, even though there is a bone there, and it makes sense that shortening the bodice would sort this out.  But I've decided to get over it, and just enjoy my dress!

This is what the bra cups look like sewn inside, along with a waist stay.

As I've said, this dress was made without a definite occasion, but I have two birthday dos to go to this month, so I think I'll wear it then.

If anybody else has made a strapless dress, I would love to see it, so please leave me a link to a blog post in the comments.  Have a great week!