Cotton Lawn Shirt – Burda Style 7136

It is months since I have sewn a garment. I can’t seem to run a knitting project along with sewing. The knitting takes over and time for sewing is shrunk.

I still have sewing plans going around my head and one thing I wanted to make was a shirt. I like making shirts and I hadn’t done one for a couple of years. I was after a cotton lawn fabric and after searching the net found a design I liked on sale at Ditto fabrics for £7.50 per metre. When I cut out the fabric I did notice that further into the piece the pattern started to slope downwards, in fact I had to cut out the back piece again, luckily I had enough fabric. Maybe this was why it was a bargain price?

I used a pattern that I have used a few times before, Burda Style 7136. I have tinkered with this pattern and slimmed it down a bit but it is a bog standard shirt pattern.

I don’t seem to have the cuff placket pattern piece anymore so I drafted a new one following this link, from Emm makes Patterns. It has turned out slightly wider than I imagined but at least I know how to draft one for next time. The instructions also have a link to the Colette website for clear info on sewing your cuff placket.

shirt cuff placket (1824 x 1368)

I did the usual shirt construction with a two layered yoke and flat felled side seams from cuff to body hem.

shirt inner yoke (1824 x 1368)

One thing I did change about my pattern was the collar shape. I’m always unsure of the collar shape, usually thinking it’s too ‘winged’. I took a look at the bird print shirt that I last made with this pattern and took off some of the collar point and I’m happy with the results.

When I came to the topstitching on this garment I used my new preferred  method of two threads in the needle. This way works so much better for me than the thicker topstitching thread or the extra strong thread that I had been using. I now find topstitching so much less stressful than before!

cotton lawn shirt


Girls Denim Skirt

After finishing the jeans I went straight into another denim project. My 7 year old daughter wanted a new denim skirt to replace the A line skirt I made over a year ago. This time I wanted to do a more classic style of denim skirt, especially now I know how to insert a fly zipper….

Girls denim skirt

Girls denim skirt

The fabric was left over from making the first skirt and was originally from Ditto Fabrics. I think it was 97% cotton 3% lycra and a slightly heavier weight than I used in my jeans.

I started by drafting the basic skirt block from the Winifred Aldrich Metric Pattern cutting for children’s wear using her individual measurements.

skirt front

I drew on the style lines, yoke, pockets etc following what I had learnt from the Craftsy course. I took the size of back pockets from a pair of current pair of jeans.

I found topstitching this skirt more successful that the jeans. I think this was because instead of using Guttermann topstitch thread I used Guttermann extra strong and it seemed to give me less problems.

skirt back

When I went to stock up on the topstitch thread I noticed the extra strong quality. It looks very similar in thickness. It comes in 100mt reels instead of 30mts and works out cheaper so I thought I’d give it a go. I didn’t have any issues with tension and threading the machine needle was easy, it doesn’t seem to untwist like the topstitch thread.  Also because all was going so well, changing the thread to topstitch wasn’t a chore.  In my opinion it give the same look as the regular topstitch thread so in future I think I will chose this quality.

The fly zipper worked out ok. I made the under flap wide enough and long enough to cover the entire zipper inside and I was able to bar tack at the bottom edge this time. I’m no master yet on inserting a fly and still found it a stressful evening of sewing.  In fact I was so tense it made me feel sick by the time I’d finished – hobby sewing isn’t supposed to do that! But I know how to improve for the next fly zip, I’ll get it perfect one day!

front close up

As my daughter is still quite slight around the waist and hips I added buttonhole elastic into the back waistband. You can buy this in different widths from eBay or Amazon.

After sewing on the waistband I positioned the button holes for the elastic exits just to the front of each side seam. Then I sewed on a button just forward of the buttonhole.  I completed the waistband then threaded the elastic through. I secured the elastic at the centre back with a line of vertical stitching which would be hidden by a belt loop.

Adding the buttonhole and button for the elastic - remember sew the button on before finishing the waistband, it's much easier.

Adding the buttonhole and button for the elastic – remember sew the button on before finishing the waistband, it’s much easier.

Thread the elastic through the waistband casing and neaten the ends of the elastic with a small hem.

Thread the elastic through the waistband casing and neaten the ends of the elastic with a small hem.

I think the back pockets are a bit too low, I noticed this when sewing on but I had marked the position with the awl making holes so I couldn’t move up. There is also just enough stride room, in hindsight maybe I should have made slightly A line to allow for this.

Overall skirt is a great success and my daughter loves it and the old skirt has been sent to the charity shop.

Jeans – Craftsy Jeanius Course – Pattern and Toile

Since joining the RTW Fast in January 2014 I knew that to keep up the fast I’d need to make some jeans sooner or later. So I’ve been thinking about this for a while, I finally bought the Craftsy Jeanius course last November when on Black Friday it was on offer for £12.50. Craftsy regularly have offers but this was the best I’d seen it at.  Last week I finally got my act together and started the course. To me the idea of jeans just looked too intimidating – all that topstitching, I’ve never done a fly zipper opening and (most importantly) getting the fit right.

I’m really enjoying the course, it’s hosted by Kenneth D King and I find his delivery clear and thorough. I like how his ruler has ‘prof King’ stuck to it.

The jeans I wanted to copy are a pair of Levi’s straight leg demi curve which fit really well. The problem I normally have with jeans and any trousers is the gaping at the back waistband. These jeans are perfect and I can wear them without a belt.

I spent a couple of evenings thread tracing the seam lines then transferring on to the silk organza and finally transferring on to pattern paper. The word that stuck in my mind from the tutor was ‘accuracy’, so I made sure I spent time measuring my seam lines and making sure they matched up.

Thread tracing the seam lines on the back yoke and pocket

Thread tracing the seam lines on the back yoke and pocket

The toile was easy to sew up as you make this before you’ve added any front pockets to your pattern. You do need to put a zipper in and it’s optional whether you want to add a waistband, which I did.

The original jeans have 2% spandex and the denim I have bought has 3% in but my toile fabric is 100% cotton. I managed to wriggle into the toile but couldn’t do the zipper up, but could just about close the waistband at the front. Ignoring the zipper issue the fit around the bottom and thighs is perfect, slightly tight but expected without the spandex. The back waist has a tiny bit of a gape but taking a closer look at the waistband on the original jeans it is shaped as the length of the top edge is slightly shorter than the bottom edge.  Shaping the waistband should eliminate the gape but just to be sure I’m going to take tiny bit out of the top edge of the back yoke.

I needed to add some width to the front body as even with spandex that zip wasn’t going to close. I added 1.5cm into the front pattern piece at the waist by drawing a horizontal line at mid thigh height then cutting in a straight line down from the waist to this line then out to the side seam. I opened up the pattern at the mid thigh by 0.5cm, this then gave an opening at the waist of 1.5cm. I filled in the opened up wedges by sticking pattern paper on the reverse.

Left hand picture show the pattern being cut and opened out to create more width at the top edge. On the right I've filled in the open sections by sticking pattern paper behind

Left hand picture show the pattern being cut and opened out to create more width at the top edge. On the right I’ve filled in the open sections by sticking pattern paper behind

I bought the silk organza from e-Bay. I’ve used this seller before for organza and the delivery from Hong Kong is always quicker that you expect.

I didn’t buy the denim until I’d gotten far enough in to the project and knew I wasn’t going to give up. I’ve bought denim from Ditto Fabrics before so this was my first point of call. I ordered a swatch of the Italian denim at £8.25 per metre. 97% cotton / 3% spandex. The weight is just slightly lighter than the Levi’s but I really liked the colour so instead of messing about and getting more swatches I went for it and it arrived the day after ordering. Because a lot of their fabrics are ex – designer clearance I didn’t want to faff around and then find it’s sold out.

So I feel ready to start….

I have some orange Guttermann topstitching thread already – two spools – as in my experience you get through a lot of this when trying to get the tension right. I always use a matching colour normal thread quality in the bobbin; since I’ve learnt this trick my top stitching experiences have been less fraught.

Denim fabric along with topstitching thread, standard thread, rivets, jeans needles and topstitching needles

Denim fabric along with topstitching thread, standard thread, rivets, jeans needles and topstitching needles

For some great topstitch advice read this post from ‘yes, I like that’.

I’m going to pace myself with the sewing and not try to do too much in one sitting but I have to say I’m quite excited about making my first pair of jeans.



Junior A-Line Denim Skirt

This was the last sewing make of 2013 which I managed to finish just in time for Christmas.
skirt on bench (2160 x 1620)

It is a self drafted pattern for which I followed the skirt block with darts from Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting for children’s Wear. It’s a simple pattern to draft. I made up a toile but found it was too slim so I cut the pattern from the hem up to the base of the darts and closed the darts to get a bit more of an A-line shape. I used a shaped waistband, taking the depth of the waistband from the skirt pieces rather than adding a straight band to the top edge.
girls skirt pattern diagram 2

I chose the front style opening as I wanted a bit of interest and didn’t want to use a zipper. The centre front waistband  has a bound buttonhole at each end. It only opens on the left side.
Find the bound button hole tutorial here.
skirt open at waist (2160 x 1620)It’s the first time I have ever sewn that style of pocket, the only amendment I need to make to the pattern  is to cut the denim patch, which is laid onto the back pocket bag, bigger. It only just fills the space, it needs another couple of cm’s added to the length of it.

I added  buttonhole elastic into the back waist, you can get this quite cheaply by the metre on eBay. The buttonhole stitch on my machine was playing  up so I did a faced oblong opening, just like when doing back of the bound buttonhole. I find it easier to stitch the button on before securing the end of the elastic. I took these clear buttons from a worn out pair of trousers and stitched them so that the stitches on the right side were hidden in the side seam of the waistband. You can see the stitches on the right side where I have secured the elastic but the thread match is good so it is not that noticeable. I secured the elastic at the centre back using a box stitch in the contrast topstitching thread.
inner wb finished

The topstitching on the centre front waistband isn’t perfect, I did think about unpicking and doing it again but know how temperamental topstitching can be I decided it was probably as good as it was going to get. I learnt so much when making the denim shirt that at least I’m not faffing around trying to get the tension right etc. and can just start stitching.

The fabric was from Ditto fabrics and has a little bit of stretch in it, not really necessary for this type of skirt but when I bought the fabric I didn’t really have a project in mind. In fact it only used 40cm out of the 1.5mts I bought so plenty left to make something for myself.

Burda Style 7136 Denim shirt in progress

I’ve been thinking about a denim shirt since the beginning of the year and it’s taken me till November to get around to it.

All pieces waiting for top stitching

All pieces waiting for top stitching

I found the lightweight denim at Ditto Fabrics, I was able to get a swatch first just to check it was the right weight for a shirt. The fabric was described as being ‘distressed’ but when it arrived some areas were a bit more distressed than others. There are some quite prominent lines but I’ve been able to cut these near the sleeve seams.

pattern front(1368 x 1824)

pattern back (1824 x 1368)

The pattern is Burda Style 7136. It’s styled more as a dress shirt but it had all the features I wanted. Slim fitting, back yoke, darts & chest pockets. I’m putting on two chest pockets and adding flaps. Pearl snaps seem to be the in thing at the moment on denim shirts. I’ve had a look on-line and I could have got some but then I needed a tool to apply as well so I found some buttons on Ebay, £5 for 20 inc P&P, which give a similar appearance which give the added bonus that when pearl buttons on denim shirts go out of fashion I could change them (like I’d ever bother…)

Tacked sleeve placket along with pocket and flap. The 'distressed' line looks more prominent in the photo than real life.

Tacked sleeve placket along with pocket and flap. The ‘distressed’ line looks more prominent in the photo than real life.

When I was transferring the pattern markings I used yellow wax paper. This stuff is great. It doesn’t seem to be available in the UK so I ordered from A Fashionable Stitch in the US. You use it with a serrated edge tracing wheel (not the spiked) and it leaves a perfect mark, but obviously not suitable for all fabrics.

Clover serrated tracing wheel and wax paper

Clover serrated tracing wheel and wax paper

bust dart marked using the wax tracing paper

bust dart marked using the wax tracing paper

Sewing is on hold at the moment as I need to buy some topstitching threads which I should be able to do tomorrow. I recently read a great post on topstitching by Yes I like That, 20 tips and before I start I’ll be re-reading all of them.