Pattern Review: TATB Safiya Dungarees/Playsuit hack

Here is my third pattern review from the Make it Simple book – this time, I have combined two variations in the book for the Safiya trousers.

Details

  • Name: Safiya
  • Variation: Dungarees for bodice/straps, playsuit for shorts
  • Design House: Tilly and the Buttons / Tilly Walnes’ book Make it Simple
  • Size I made: 4

Fabric

I wasn’t sure how this mash up would turn out, so to be on the safe side, I found something in my stash.  I ended up using an old curtain, which was easy to sew up.

Difficulty

There are no tricky fastenings and the darts were simple to construct.  My main issue was checking the fit and making sure I read the correct instructions for each part as I was using part of the playsuit instructions and part of the dungarees.

Clarity

The instructions are clear, but there is not much guidance on how to create this hack as it is just suggestion in the book.  However, if you put markers in the book to ensure you follow the right section at the right time, you should be okay!

Design and Fit

I am surprised at how fitted they have ended up considering the design is loose fit.  There is not much wiggle room for putting them on when they go past your hips.  My measurements are fairly standard, but if you do vary quite a bit and want a fitted finish, you may need to consider adding a zip.

I was torn between adding the tie and not having elastic or just going with the elastic.  As you can see, I went with the elasticated waist.  I decided to go with it in part because I would have had to remove the excess length on the shorts, but also felt it would be easier to wear with the elastic.

Sadly, the shorts are too short to incorporate the in-seam pocket.

Time Taken

It’s tricky to gauge how long it took me, as I went wrong a few times and I spent about an hour or so turning out those narrow straps!  I made it over a few days, but it probably equates to about two days.

Conclusion

Making this version has made me more tempted to make a longer dungaree version of the Safiya.  Living in the UK, I’m not sure how many short versions I would wear, but it’s definitely a fun addition to the wardrobe, and a good way to re-purpose an old curtain.

You can watch my related video on the vlog below:

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Pattern Review: TATB Shortie PJs

Here is my pattern review for the shortie PJs from the Make it Simple book!

Details

  • Name: Juno PJs
  • Variation: Shorts and short sleeved – with cuffs from Tabitha variation
  • Design House: Tilly and the Buttons / Tilly Walnes’ book Make it Simple
  • Size I made: 4

Fabric

I used up some yellow ponte fabric which I originally used for my yellow Kinder cardigan for the shorts.  The top was made from a nice single knit fabric I found in my local Trago shop.  The yellow ribbing was from My Fabrics.

Difficulty

I found this a nice simple make overall and would recommend to confident beginners.  The only bit which may be tricky is the neckband as it may need adjusting.  I followed the practice I learned from another pattern where you machine tack the neckband on to begin with to check it isn’t too baggy before going for it with a smaller stitch or overlocker!  It turned out I didn’t need to adjust it but it is good to be safe.

The waistband on the shorts is made in a similar fashion to the neckband.  I was concerned that I might find this a bit tricky as it can be easy to stretch elastic inconsistently, but it turned out to be fine.

For the shorts, you must adjust the trouser pattern from the trouser version, but the instructions on how to do this are really clear and I found this very easy to do.

Clarity

For the shorts, I followed the longhand instructions.  For the top, I followed the checklist instructions, but referred to the longhand version as required.  Both sets of directions were clear.

Design and Fit

I’m happy with the fit.  As it is made from a knit fabric, I didn’t worry about adjusting it.  There are clear instructions on how to measure out the elastic for the waistband.

You decide how long the shorts are, so I opted for and inside leg seam of 12cm, which I think is about double the version shown.  This length is just right for me; not too short and not too long.

I think the ribbed cuffs on the top are a nice addition and complements the shorts.

Time Taken

The book suggests 50 minutes to cut out and 2 hours to make.  I took 1 hour 30 minutes to cut out and 3 hours to make.

I couldn’t cut my shorts on the fold as I was using a remnant, and I added the cuffs to the sleeves, which probably added a bit of time onto the total.  However, I think I am just a slower sewist than those that helped create the guide times!

Conclusion

I’m happy with the end result and I might made the Tabitha t-shirt on its own one day as it would go under dungarees or a pinafore nicely.  It is like the Peak t-shirt by Wendy Ward in that you can embellish it and adapt it to your own style.  I think I will add a bit of embroidery on the top soon to give it a bit more character.

You can watch my related video below:

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Pattern Review: Butterick 5189 Dressing Gown

Recently I made another of my planned makes for #2020make nine – the dressing gown – as a gift.

Details

  • Pattern Name: 6232
  • Variation/style: Dressing Gown
  • Design House: Butterick
  • Size I made: L

Fabric

The main fabric is a polyester brocade and the lining is a red terry cloth.  The brocade is woven and the terry cloth is knit fabric.  Both are from Fabricland.

Using a knit and woven was quite challenging as they act very differently to one another, and I would recommend to avoid using them together in a project like this if possible.  The terry cloth was happy to stretch away and the blocade was slippery.  However, I could not find a towelling fabric I liked and the terry cloth matched the brocade nicely.

Difficulty

I’d say this is good for a confident beginner pattern-wise but it does depend on the fabric choice.  If you use towelling, there is a nap to it to consider (direction of the fabric) and it can be quite thick to sew as well, which can create its own challenges.

However, there are no challenging zips or fastenings.  The patch pocket and amount of top stitching may be tricky, but also may not show too much depending on your fabric choice.

Clarity

I found the instructions lovely and clear apart from on how to hem the garment.  I ended up leveling off the hem first, then pressing/tacking the hem allowance up, then tacking the lining and main sides together before slip stitching together and finishing off with top stitching.

Design and Fit

It is a relaxed fit so the fit was not too challenging.  The main issue has been the hem without the recipient to hand (as it is a gift).  I love the idea that it could be reversible.  The collar adds definition and the pockets are roomy.  It doesn’t have tabs to secure the tie which is a shame, but fairly easy to rectify.  It is also difficult to position until you try it on as well to get the position correct.  If I ever come across this pattern in my own size, I would be very tempted to make one for myself. (my copy is only L/XL).

Time Taken

I made this over three weeks, but it could be done in a few days or quicker with easier fabrics.

Conclusion

I’ve definitely got my money’s worth with this pattern now.  It was a charity shop find to begin with but I have made the PJ shorts a couple of times (which are great too) and this dressing gown was simple to follow and looks great.  I would recommend it, and would make it again.

You can watch my video review below:

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Pattern Review: New Look 6232 women’s shirt

Recently I finished my biggest sewing accomplishment to date: the fitted shirt!

Details

  • Pattern Name: 6232
  • Variation/style: women’s version, C
  • Design House: New Look
  • Size I made: 14

Fabric

Main fabric: butterfly cotton poplin fabric in aqua from Minerva Crafts online

Contrast fabric: Yellow cotton poplin fabric from Truro fabrics

Both fabrics were lovely to work with, along with washing and pressing well.

Difficulty

This was a challenging make.  I have never made a garment that is quite so technical.  However, I did choose it for that very reason as well!

There is a lot of interfacing to attach (cuffs, collar..), darts on the front and back, sleeve plackets, curved hem, buttonholes, pleats, front band – essentially jam-packed with techniques and skills!  However, the fabric choice did make it easier as it is so stable!  Also, I think choosing a patterned fabric is more forgiving than plain for any wobbly stitching.

Clarity

The clarity of the pattern was okay overall.  As it is not an indie pattern, it is not as detailed, but the diagrams are clear.

The instructions do assume some prior knowledge.  For example, it does not advise you on how to ease the sleeve into the armhole; it just tells you to stitch it.

I was nervous about attaching the sleeve placket but I carefully followed the instructions and succeeded so where it does provide detailed instructions, it does it well.

Design and Fit

I did take an inch off the sides but I’m not sure this was necessary or whether it may have been better to take half as much.  I may take less off next time.

Apart from that, I did not adjust.  The sleeves are a good length for me but I do have quite long arms.  I am not happy with my front band.  I think I need to re-sew a couple of buttons so it overlaps better and I think I misaligned the top buttonhole but I can’t do much about that now.  I did re-sew the top button to minimise any gape between the top and second button.

I chose this pattern to tackle some classic shirt details such as the collar with button stand, cuffs, sleeve placket, front band and patch pockets.  It is packed with features including pleats in the sleeves.  It is a great classic shirt design.

Time Taken

It took me about 3 and a half months to complete this shirt as I took my time to gradually create it.  It took 3.5 hours to cut out all the pattern pieces alone!  There are a lot of small tasks so if you are looking for a long term project to tackle in small time windows then this could be the pattern for you.

Conclusion

This is the most technical make I have made to date and for that I am very pleased with it, and can set aside my discontent with the top buttonhole.  I am not sure if I would make another as I’m not a huge shirt wearer, but I did enjoy the techniques involved in it so perhaps Phill will finally get the shirt he requested 7 years ago…

 

You can watch my pattern review on the vlog below:

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Pattern Review: TATB Freya Cowl Neck Dress

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Details

  • Pattern name: Freya
  • Variation/Style: Dress – Cowl Neck
  • Design House: Tilly and the Buttons / Tilly Walnes book Stretch!
  • Size I made: 4

Fabric

This owl knit fabric is quite stretch but very cosy.  I originally bought it from Fabricland UK a few years ago but I can’t remember which one!

Difficulty

I found this a simple make.  The cowl neck was easy to do and might even be easier than the mock neckline that is featured in the other variations in the book.  I think it is easier to add than a neckband in my own experience.  Apart from that, it was very similar to the Coco Dress (also by Tilly and the Buttons) to make up.

Clarity

I feel a bit like a parrot on this point, as I keep gushing over the Tilly and the Buttons pattern instructions and how it feels like someone is holding your hand, guiding you through the process!  I don’t remember encountering any issues with the instructions.  The book guides you nicely through all the steps.

Design and Fit

It is shorter than I would normally wear – similar length to the length of the Coco Dress – but as I would wear this with tights it is not too much of an issue.

It feels a bit snug on the bust so next time I may need to grade out a bit on this section – or it may be that I accidentally moved the fabric when cutting it out, reducing the width.

I really like the cowl neck and feel it adds a stylish yet simple addition to the pattern.  It would look great in a plain fabric as well.

Time Taken

You can make up this garment within a day.  However, I did leave the garment to rest a couple of days before I hemmed it,as I felt that the fabric needed this.

Conclusion

My conclusion is that I would recommend the pattern and this particular variation.  However, I would like to make the mock neck style as a sweater next time.  As I get warm easily and where I live is fairly mild (or shall we say muggy?) I don’t feel like I need many of these in my wardrobe, however.

You can watch my video review below:

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Pattern Review: Debbie Shore Office Bag

I’m going a bit different this week with my pattern review and sharing my thoughts on an accessory pattern – the office bag from “Sew Brilliant Bags” by Debbie Shore.

Details

  • Pattern name: Office bag
  • Variation/Style: As instructed – N/A
  • Design House: Debbie Shore
  • Size I made: As per instructions (however it may not be accurate due to seam allowance used)

Fabric and other items

I used a brilliant needlecord fabric I picked up from Fabrics Galore a few years ago at the Knitting and Stitching show at Westpoint in Exeter.  I used the fabric to make a pinafore, but had some remnants to make up this bag.  For the lining/contrast fabric, I used some yellow cotton twill that I had been saving for an apron (hopefully I still have enough to do that too!)

As I was worried that the needlecord may not be strong enough to withstand the wear and tear of being a heavily used bag, I reinforced it with interfacing.  The pattern also suggests using fusible fleece to give the bag more structure.

Other attachments included a metal twist clasp for the flap, two D-rings, two swivel clasps and a slider to make the shoulder strap fully adjustable.

Difficulty

I think this bag looks more complicated than it is, and as it is predominantly made from rectangular shapes, it is quite straightforward.  I found the strap a nightmare to turn right sides out, but this may have been an issue with the seam allowance I used, which I will explain more below…

The most challenging aspect for me was stitching the bottom corners of the lining of the bag.  If you are not used to bias binding, you may find the flap edging a bit challenging, but Debbie’s instructions at the front of the book on this were very useful, and it is probably a good practice project as there’s not too much of it.  I machine stitched the front side to the flap and then hand-stitched the other side of the bias binding tape as I like this finish.

Clarity

Unfortunately, I found that the pattern lacked clarity in areas.  First, it is worth noting that she does not state anywhere what the seam allowance is.  Perhaps you are meant to add your own, or you are to assume that it is 1/4 inch like most quilting-based projects.  As I don’t follow many patchwork or quilt based patterns, I am not used to assuming the seam allowance and presumed there would be an indication somewhere.  If I have missed this in the book, please can someone advise which page it is on!

As a result, I used 1/2 inch seam allowances throughout, and I think this caused my straps to be way narrower than they should have been.  I ended up finding other D-rings and swivel clasps to use, which was frustrating as I bought some especially for the project, but didn’t have enough fabric to correct the error.

Another error is in the lining measurements for cutting out the base pieces and side pieces.  These measurements are mixed up, and I only realised at the point when I was about to stitch them.  Fortunately, to correct it, I only had to shorten two of the pieces rather than re-cut as I was using a plain fabric, but if you were using a patterned fabric and the direction of the print mattered more, you would need to cut this correctly!

I didn’t understand the instructions that well for stitching the flap onto the outer bag either, and next time I would just do my own thing rather than try to make myself understand as I wasn’t too happy with the end result in this aspect.

There are some good pictures in the book, but in a way, I felt like there could have been more.  However, if you are used to making bags, this may not be an issue.

Design and Fit

Despite the issues I had with clarity, I really love the design of this bag – in fact, I love it more now that I have made it.  The reason I love it is because the lining piece means that your bag has three sections – two open sections (of equal size) and in between them is a zipped pocket.  I found the construction of this section marvelous and while I may add more pockets to another version, I would definitely make this middle zip divider section again.

I really like the bias binding on the flap as well, and it’s really grown my confidence in using bias binding.

Time Taken

The longest part of the making this bag for me was cutting all the pieces out.  While it wasn’t too arduous as it was a series of rectangles, I had to cut a lot of them and as there are no pattern pieces, you need to accurately draw them out yourself.  Also, I had the additional step of interfacing all the needlecord fabric pieces.

I reckon it is a project you could do within a weekend comfortably, including the cutting out stage.

Conclusion

I am really happy with the end result, but I do have some caveats.  I would advise anyone doing this pattern or any in the book to check that the measurements make sense to ensure you cut out the correct-sized pieces!  Also, have a read through of the pattern first to ensure it makes sense, and to work out whether you want to make any adjustments.

You can watch my video review below:

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Pattern Review and Upcycle: Cleo Pinafore

This is arguably one of my faourite makes of 2019 so far – the upcycled cleo!

Details

  • Pattern name: Cleo
  • Variation/Style: Knee length
  • Design House: Tilly and the Buttons
  • Size I made: 4

Fabric

I made this completely out of two pairs of size 16 jeans which were gifted to me the other year.  I had my sights on transforming them into a pinafore towards the end of the year but Sewisfaction’s Great British Sewing Bee challenge brought it forward.

The denim of the jeans is lovely and thick and and as a result it is a real treat wearing this pinafore.  Best of all is that it doesn’t crease – yes!

Difficulty

The pattern is beautifully simple.  I did not have to make any adjustments as it is loose fit, but you may wish to grade between sizes if your measurements vary.

The most challenging part for me was topstitching as I wanted to use a contrast thread colour and I struggled to get the tension right on my machine.  If your fabric is thick and your machine is not suited to heavy weight materials, you may struggle going over seam bulk.  However, I found that using a denim needle for the sewing up and a top stitching needle helped, along with the trusty walking foot.

The hardest part was cutting out all the parts from the jeans.  I am not convinced that I cut the front sections perfectly on the grainline, and unpicking the seams took hours!

Clarity

As I have mentioned in other TATB pattern reviews (and many others have said the same), the instructions are very clear and guide you step by step.

Design and Fit

Cleo is a loose fit garment and as a result, is easy to fit.  If you use buckles and don’t stitch down the straps, it even leaves room for adjusting in this area at any time.

I decided to put the front slit at the back.  I think a slit is needed for the knee length version or your walking gait might be a bit restricted.  I really like the hip pocket detail as well.  I was tempted by the bib pocket but it seemed a shame to not use two of the ready made back pockets from one set of jeans!

Time Taken

It is really difficult to evaluate how long it took me to make this garment.  The sewing up was pretty quick and didn’t take long.  The main time sink was unpicking the original jeans construction as they are made so well!  However, if you made these from a piece of fabric it would not take long at all, especially as the pattern is designed for use with stable woven fabrics

Conclusion

I have always had reservations about the Cleo.  Like many of the TATB patterns, I’ve always felt that I like the look of them but that they might not suit me.  However, having made it and worn it many times, I am really happy I went ahead with it.  It has soared to the top as my favourite pinafore to wear and I really feel that repurposing the jeans has made it such a satisfying make to wear that is likely to last a long time.  The fabric of the jeans is so substantial and feels so nice – I suspect it would have cost me fair bit to find the equivalent in a fabric shop!

In particular, I love the blend of the two jeans.  They are a similar weight, but I like the fact you can see the medley of the two types of denim.

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Pattern Review: Kinder Cardigan

Having made two of these cardigans, I felt it was time to write a review on this pattern.

I got Wendy Ward’s Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Stretch Fabrics as a gift about a year ago, and while a few designs appealed to me, I didn’t get round to tracing any patterns until around Christmas time.

The Kinder Cardigan is definitely the one which stands out for me in the book – especially the long, almost coatigan, version.  However, the first make was for my nan for Christmas.   It didn’t begin well as I accidentally cut it out in the wrong fabric (a sure sign that you need to use up some of your stash if you have two similar ones…) and I had issues as I was using my mum’s machine (which was my nan’s machine incidentally) which was not too happy and was demonstrating this with unbalanced tension and tight stitches.  Still, I got there in the end and the end result inspired me to make one for myself.

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Pattern Review: Gable Top

I realised the other day that I never reviewed the Gable top pattern.  Better late than never!  Also, it means that I have lots of experience in wearing it!

Details

  • Pattern name: Gable Top
  • Variation/Style: View 3 without the cuff
  • Design House: Jennifer Lauren Handmade
  • Size I made: 12

Fabric

Stripey stretch fabric remnant from The Knitting & Stitching Show in 2017.

Difficulty

This is a really simple top to make consisting of only 4 pieces of fabric.  The main challenge for me was the fabric I chose as it was very stretchy.  You may wish to take extra care on the neckline, which I would argue is the trickiest part.

Clarity

It is very simple although I did get a bit confused at the neckline.  However, Jennifer Lauren has a video to help you on this to use in tandem with the written instructions.

Design and Fit

The top has come out quite tight.  I am not sure if this is the pattern or the fabric (or both).  I am not used to wearing very fitted garments so this is probably where most of my discomfort stems from!  It’s also very long but I may have stretched it or the fabric I have chosen has encouraged this.  I will have to see how much negative ease the pattern has if I make it again.

Design-wise, it is the perfect staple to go under a pinafore or dungarees – such as the Ivy Pinafore by Jennifer Lauren!

Time Taken

I’d say you can make this in half a day.  It’s very simple and super quick if you don’t have any stripe matching to do!

Conclusion

This version feels a bit too fitted for me so I will probably make it in a larger size next time, or perhaps choose a different fabric which is not so clingy.  However, I have worn it lots with my pinafore collection (yes, it has turned into a collection… expect more pinafore reviews!)

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Pattern Review: Jarrah

This year I was fortunate enough to be a pattern tester for one of Megan Nielsen’s new patterns which came out on 1 November 2018.  Here is my pattern review of Jarrah.

jarrah front view

Details

  • Pattern name: Jarrah
  • Variation/Style: A
  • Design House: Megan Nielsen
  • Size I made: 10

Fabric

I used a grey medium-thickness knit fabric – a bit like a ponte?  I found it in a charity shop in Helston and it was just what I was looking for!  The lighter grey is ribbing which was also from a charity shop (but has been in my stash for years…)

jarrah side view

Difficulty

I would say that this pattern is a nice easy one for beginners.  The only real challenge was the neckband for me.

Clarity

I found that the instructions were clear.  I did go on auto pilot at one point (the neckband) and almost do it wrong, but when I actually read it, it was clear!!  The pattern provides markers for attaching the neckband rather than advising you to ‘quarter’ the neckband and neck opening yourself, which is great, you just need to read it!

Design and Fit

I made a straight size 10 – it’s a loose fit design and I’m a fan of baggy jumpers!

The design has grown on me – especially now that it’s cold enough to wear it here in the UK!  However, if I made another, I’d go for the funnel neck version.

Time Taken

I completed this make in a day.  The hems were easy as I was attaching the ribbing and the fabrics were stable knit fabrics which helped.  Also, I didn’t need to adjust the fit.

Conclusion

Overall, it’s a great classic staple for your wardrobe, with some lovely variations to try out.  Due to the different variations which come with the pattern (high-low hem, tie knot, funnel neck, as well as this one I’ve done), you get a lot of value for money out of the pattern.

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