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


Turning The Unfinished Dress Into A Skirt

I decided to get this done quickly and out of the sewing room into the wardrobe. I took the unfinished dress I wrote about in my last post and just chopped off the bodice. I overlocked the raw edge and pressed about 1cm under and stitched down using a navy thread in the middle of the two rows of top stitching. You can hardly see the stitching. Then I added the buttonholes and jeans buttons.


button though denim skirt salvaged from an unfinished dress

Because this was meant to be a dress rather than a skirt the waistband is slightly loose but it is still wearable. Also as it sits slightly lower at the waist than the dress would the length of the skirt is slightly longer then I’d planned. If I were to make this skirt from scratch it would also probably have a shaped waistband.

It’s had it’s first wearing today, that’s why it looks a little bit creased in the photos. It’s really comfortable, I can ride my bike in it so I can see me getting a lot of wear out of it all though the year.

I am really pleased with the top stitching. Using two strands of standard thread in the needle has really worked for me and my temperamental machine.

Giving Up On A Project – McCalls M6696 In Denim

Last Autumn I took a cutting from the Sunday Times Style magazine of a MIH denim dress which I just fell in love with. I bought the fabric in the spring but it wasn’t until July when I got around to sewing it up.  I decided to make use of the McCalls M6696 shirt dress pattern using option D but with the short sleeves. This pattern has a definite waistband and I preferred this to the plaited belt on the MIH dress.  I made this dress with the full skirt last year.

mih denim dress

I altered the skirt pattern by adding in some flare and I lengthened the sleeve and took out some of the sleeve head fullness as I remembered from the first make that the sleeves had so much fullness they were a pig to put in.

mih denim dress model

MIH denim dress – what I was trying to aim for….


My first stumble came when I realised that I should have used the size 12 or even the 14 skirt pattern, but I had used the 10 as my bust corresponded with the 10 but I hadn’t  noticed my hips were 3″ bigger on the body than the measurements on the pattern envelope. I managed to get around this with the ease allowed in the hip measurement and using the smallest possible seam allowance. All seemed well.

I had got to the stage where all I needed to do was to stitch down the collar stand, sew on the front pockets and button hole and apply the jeans buttons. I always struggle with getting a good finish when finishing off the collar stand and with the thickness of the denim it was just about passable.

I fitted the dress and the bodice was just not right. The waist and bust fit OK but it is the area above the bust, it’s just too big and the neck opening too wide. So I calmly decided to call it a day with this dress before I wasted a load of jeans buttons.

I haven’t been doing well with my motivation to sew recently and every time I go into the sewing room I see this as a bit of a block which is in my way.

Where I went wrong here is that I think the fabric was too thick and I need to toile the bodice again, I had done it last year but there didn’t seem to be any major fitting problems on the first dress.

I need to take some positives from this…..
I learnt a new and much more successful way of topstitching.
I usually use the Gutermann extra strong thread but there is usually some tangling up in the bobbing and this time I just couldn’t get my second row of topstitching to look nice and I really wanted the twin needle look. In desperation I tried the method where you use two strands of standard thread in the needle and it worked much better than I had expected and looks just the same. So from now on I think this will be my preferred method.

I’m going to chop the bodice off this dress and turn it into a skirt. I think once I have done that I can get my enthusiasm back and start making plans for what I’d like to sew for the coming Autumn.

I would still like to make this dress but I think I’ll leave it for a while before attempting again. And once it is done I can go down the local park and style it like this fashion blogger who is wearing the real thing. 🙂

Also any good tips on getting a good finish on collar stand would be much appreciated!

Black Jeans – No Belt Required!

These are the 3rd pair of jeans I’ve made for myself using the pattern I made from following the Craftsy Jeanius course. I was really pleased with the make up of my second pair but the fit was not what I was hoping for, they were looser around the bottom and thigh than the first pair and I still had gaping at the back waist even after changing to a shaped waistband.

jeans front

Unfortunately black doesn’t photograph well and you can’t see much detail


I found that I had too much ease on the back leg creating horizontal wrinkles at the back of the thighs. I adjusted the pattern by cutting and slashing horizontally from the outer edge to the inner edge and taking out the excess, I did this in two places and took out around 2cm. I also took out another 1.5cm from the top edge of the waistband pattern – 3cm in total. I took this out from the back of the waistband only as that was where I needed the extra shaping.

jeans side

Before I cut the fabric I measured the pattern against the Levis I had originally copied. I found I needed to shave some of the width of the hips and thighs.

So the result-  I have finally made a pair of jeans with a great fit around the waist – no belt needed, perfect fit around the bottom and thighs and no stupid mistakes like cutting the inside leg just that tiny bit too short.

back waist on jeans

No gaping at the back waist!


After sewing up the inside leg seams I tacked the outer legs using a contrast thread and big machine stitch. They were very tight and I nearly wavered and let them out but I held firm knowing that they would loosen up.

I gave them the ultimate test and cycled to work in them and they were slightly tight on the front thigh when cycling  which was to be expected but other than that no problems.

I seemed to have the usual topstitching stresses, thread getting tangled at the start of stitching & tension problems but black on black is harder to unpick than orange on blue denim! I used the Gutermann extra strong as usual as even though the thread would be colour matched I wanted the thicker raised look. On this pair I only flat felled the back rise seam which I think is a must with cycling.

I found the fly slightly hard work this time. With the black sometimes I couldn’t see what was what.

fly openiing

slightly creased as I have been wearing a couple of days and just took them off to photo. The jeans zipper is from eBay, I’m not too impressed of it’s quality and will stick to the YKK ones in the future


The fabric was from eBay and was just the right weight at 10z. 98% cotton with 2% lycra at £6.99 metre.

I’m wearing it with a new Sewaholic Renfrew with a cowl neck which is exactly the same as this one I made last year but with a brighter stripe. The fabric was £4.95 a metre from Leon’s in Chorlton. It’s a straightforward easy make with all seams sewn on the overlocker.

My next make is for World Book Day, 3rd March. Luckily this year the school gave us a months notice to which I said to my children “don’t go telling me the week before that you want to be ….”. My daughter settled on Dorothy straight away and it’s me who’s been slow at doing anything. All items have arrived from eBay for the Dorothy outfit so I just need to get cracking and have it ready for next Thursday.

dorothy world book day

My 4 year old couldn’t make up his mind and rejected all my suggestions. So it’ll be Harry from ‘Harry and His Bucketful of Dinosaurs’ (again). We have a small bucket and we have dinosaurs.

Harry and his bucketful of  dinosaurs


Sewing Menswear – Thread Theory Jutland Pants

My confidence in sewing jeans and mastering the fly front led me to suggest to my other half that I make him a pair of trousers. I had been looking at the Jutland Pant pattern from Thread Theory and as he works as a carpenter they looked like they would be a sturdy pair of work trousers.

Jutland full length side on (1368 x 1824)

Side view of Jutland Pants

We’d decided to make them in denim. I found a 14.5oz denim on eBay for £5.99 per metre. I was expecting it to be heavy weight but it was a bit like cardboard when I opened the package. I ordered from Regency Rags Fabrics and I’m not quite sure if I’d recommend it.

The pattern called for 2.6mts of fabric, so I ordered 3mt and received a generous 3.6mts. I gave it a pre-wash and even as I was recklessly shoving all the fabric into the machine I wondered if it was a good idea with such a large amount of stiff fabric. Of course it turned out to be a bad idea as when I removed from the machine it was all creased up and where the creases were the fabric had faded. Once I’d ironed the fabric it looked better but some of the fade lines were still visible. Also it was a marathon ironing 3.6mts of 150cm wide fabric and in the end I only used about 1.90mt for the pants.

He wears a 34″ waist so I traced off the size 34″ and made a toile which fitted fine.

For the pocket bags I ordered some gingham from eBay sold by Favourite Fabrics. I would definitely recommend this fabric, the background is ecru rather than white and I went for the navy 3mm version. I also used this for the underneath of the leg pocket flaps and for the binding at the inner waistband.

Jutland inside (1824 x 1368)

Showing the gingham pocket bags and binding at the inner waistband

I didn’t have any issues sewing up these pants, the instruction booklet you get with the pattern is very clear. I flat felled the outside leg seam, the thickness of the layers at the knee patches didn’t cause too much of a problem. The instructions do say that you can flat fell the inside leg seams too even though it would be tricky as you’d need to sew in a tube. I decided against this and used a normal seam and overlocked the edge. I did topstitch the seam which was just about manageable. I use a method which I think is called ‘puddling’ but I can’t find any reference to it on google. Anyway, I turned the tube of the leg inside out and began topstitching at the top of the inside leg. After a short while it’ll begin to get difficult to stitch but just keep going slowly and with the needle down manoeuvre the fabric so you can keep on with the seam. A tip here would be to know the length of inseam you need as I ended up cutting about 3″ off the bottom which would have made the last bit of topstitching much easier. To get the fabric off the machine you need to go right back up the seam to the beginning. I found that taking the foot off and the needle out made it much easier to remove the fabric. I did take some photos when stitching which may help to explain better than my words.

2015-12-19 13.19.09

What I call ‘puddling’ that tricky topstitiching of a seam when you are working with a tube of fabric

One thing I wanted to do but couldn’t was to flat fell the back rise seam. This is because you join the two completed legs before sewing the fly zipper. So the rise seam is sewn from the back to the front just below the zipper opening in one go. The instructions tell you just to sew a normal seam but remember to neaten the seam first before sewing together. Frustratingly I looked at the sewalong on the Thread Theory blog for tips on sewing the fly only to see that in this instance they had decided to sew the pants in a different order and had flat felled the back rise seam – grrr!

The fly instructions were easy to follow but the problem was that I had the whole weight of the pants to deal with rather than just two front pieces. I prefer the method I leant on the Craftsy Jeanius course where the fly is inserted before the legs are sewn up.

Towards the end of the sewing I was running out of topstitching thread, it was a few days before Christmas with no chance of being about to get anymore and I really wanted to get them done. So I only single needled the fly and rise seams. My thread ran out just as I got to the end of the waistband, I was having to hold the thread as I made the final stitches as it had already come away from the reel. The hems were stitched in standard navy thread which I’ll topstitch in orange when I get the chance to buy more. The topstitching was fairly successful, there was a lot less unpicking than usual. One thing I did find that even though my stitch length would be set the same on some seams the stitches were shorter and I think this is to do with the thickness of some of the seams. It’s not perfect but it looks OK.

Jutland pocket(1368 x 1824)

Topstitching, and I remembered to tie off all end securely!

I decided to wash the pants again after I’d finished the sewing as quite a bit of dye was still coming off them during making up, all the white areas of my ironing board cover have turned pale blue. The finished inside leg length was 32″ but when I took them out of the machine I could tell straight away that they had shrunk. They had shrunk in length by 1.5″. I was a bit frantic at this stage and was standing on the waist and pulling the legs up! I had used quite a generous double fold hem so I waited for them to dry – which due to the thickness of knee patches and pockets is an age-  then undid the hem. I overlocked the edge and turned up once which wouldn’t be my ideal hem for trousers but I thought I’d see what the length was like when he wore them before doing anything else. As it turns out because he wears his trousers slightly ‘low slung’ I’ll be able to double fold the hem.

I’m a bit annoyed with myself as I’ve had all the time since Christmas to take photos in daylight and today I’m back to work and have missed the opportunity. Nor do I have a shot of them being worn but trust me they look great!

The rivets were from the batch I bought from Cast Bullet and the 1″ wide Velcro from eBay.

Anyway, I’m glad to report that the Jutland Pants have been a great success and were worn all through Christmas week. I really enjoyed making these and would quite happily make another pair. I have enough denim left to make a standard pair of jeans. So maybe later in the year I’ll take a pattern from a pair of Gap jeans or maybe just alter the Jutland pattern which would probably be easier. But I’ll be giving the fabric another wash before I make anything else with it I don’t want anymore unexpected shrinkage!



After what seemed like a marathon jeans making session earlier this year doing the Crafty Jeanius course I decided it was time for a second pair. This time around the pattern was already done and the fabric was pre-washed when I bought it.

full length front (1824 x 1368)

There were a few areas I wanted to improve on for this pair.
1. fly front, the under flap on the first pair was too narrow
2. Top stitching, my first pair has a few ends that have come undone
3. Try and flat fell the seams
4. Get a better waistband fit
5. Get the length right! The first pair were annoyingly just a bit too short.

I bought the fabric from Abakhan in Manchester. They have pre-washed denim to buy by the weight. The lengths were about 150cm long and the piece I bought cost £11. It has some lycra content probably 2 or 3%.

A few months back I came across a great blog post from ‘notes from a mad housewife’. This has a fab tutorial for flat felling seams. I knew what the finished seam looked like but I didn’t really know the best way to construct it. This way is so easy. The seams are butted together and zig zagged then pressed in a Z shape before stitching. You just need to remember you only need 3/8″ seam allowance with this method.

I flat felled the back yoke and the back rise seam.

pressing the seam before applying the two rows of topstitching for the flat felled seam

pressing the seam before applying the two rows of topstitching for the flat felled seam

The fly worked out really well but I forgot to stitch along the very edge which I didn’t notice until I’d inserted the zip and couldn’t add afterwards.

Top stitching was relatively stress free and I mastered making a decent looking bartack. I also took great care to tie off the ends of all the stitching lines so hopefully there’ll be no unravelling.

open fly (1824 x 1368)


One thing I wanted to do on this pair was get a better fit at the waist. I had altered the back yoke pattern and remembered to add twill tape to stop any stretching.  I decided to cut a two piece shaped waistband. I took out 1.5cm from the top edge on the half waistband, 3cm in total which unfortunately didn’t make as much difference as I thought it would. I can still pinch out a couple of cms so next time I need to increase the curve of the waistband from the centre back to the side seam.

One thing I found was that I had quite a bit of ease in the outside leg seam of the back, I couldn’t remember this from my first pair. You can see it in the side on photo. This is also giving a few wrinkles on the back legs, so I  before I make another pair I need to adjust the pattern and pinch out the fullness in a couple of places which should sort out the problem.

You can see the fullness in the back leg

You can see the fullness in the back leg

Saying all that I am really pleased with the make up of these jeans, they are a definite improvement on the first pair but I don’t feel I’ve quite got them right. The fit isn’t quite as my original Levis or the first pair I made. They are slightly more roomy around the back thigh. I did try them on before attaching the waistband and I felt they fitted OK but what I need to remember that at this stage they need to be tight as with wearing they loosen up quit a bit.

The rivets are from Castbullet in the US, definitely worth the investment if you plan to make more pairs.

Fabric, thread & zipper cost me less than £16 a big saving in comparison to a £90 pair of Levis.

I’m going to adjust my pattern before I put it away, take out some fullness from the outer leg seam, re-shape the waistband take some width of the back thigh so it’s ready for when I want to use it again – otherwise I’ll forget.

So rather than a slim straight leg they are more ‘boyfriend’ fit but still a pair of jeans to be proud of 🙂


Marc Jacobs Inspired ‘A’ Line Utility Cotton Drill Skirt

I really fell for this Marc Jacobs skirt when I saw it in the Sunday Times Style magazine a few weeks back so I thought I’d have a go at my own version. I have to say I am pretty pleased at how it has turned out. My skirt doesn’t quite have the same proportions, mainly due to my mistake of not ordering enough fabric. I though 1.2mt would be OK but I underestimated how wide the panels were. I spent nearly a whole evening just looking at the pattern on the fabric and trying to work out the best thing to do! But I got there in the end.

My version of a Marc Jacobs twill skirt

My version of a Marc Jacobs twill skirt

I was searching for just the right colour green in cotton drill but couldn’t find it so I bought white from myfabrics and use a Dylon machine dye in olive. (I like the way the dye now includes salt). I think I got closer to what I wanted than buying ‘Moss’ or ‘Forest’ but not sure it was worth the extra cost of the dye.

Marc Jacobs cotton twill skirt - a snip at £280

Marc Jacobs cotton twill skirt – a snip at £280

The pattern is quite simple, drafted from the Winifred Aldrich skirt block. The darts are closed to add flare. After making a toile I needed to cut up the middle of the panel and add in 8cm at the hem for extra width. The grainline is placed up the centre of the panel and not the centre front or back. This improves the drape. When wrestling with the pattern layout this was one thing I didn’t want to compromise.

Winifred Aldrich 4 gored skirt pattern

Winifred Aldrich 4 gored skirt pattern

For the bellowed pocket I used a piece of A4 paper and pinched a dart in the corner to get the desired effect. I then laid this onto the skirt pattern to get the shaping of the side seam and waist.

You have two pockets at the side seam, one for your hands and one with a flap. I made up the construction of these as I went along. The hand pocket is constructed with a front and back pocket bag then the bellowed pocket was added to the top.

showing the two side pockets

showing the two side pockets

I was trying to think of a way not having to use as many layers. It wasn’t until after I’d finished the pocket I thought that what I could do is make the hand pocket back smaller than the bellow pocket and stitch just one layer to the skirt, the stitching on the front of the skirt would then be hidden by the bellow pocket.

Front and back of the pocket area

Front and back of the pocket area

I would say that the fly zipper was the best so far! The only problem is with the size of the zip puller. It wasn’t until I’d finished that I realized it’s a big bit and sticks out. I bought this zip which is 15cm and a 13cm one at the same time, the 13cm zipper puller is much smaller. It does annoy me a bit and it’s the first thing I see when I look at the skirt!

The hem is finished with a wide bias bind tape. I had originally planned to use self fabric facing. When I cut out I left an amount which I thought would do but then I realized that there wasn’t enough for the waist band and hem facings. The waistband was more important – and that still needed a seam in the centre back to get a piece long enough.

Using the bias tape worked really well, I slightly stretched on so the smaller top edge fitted with out any tucks etc.

I had to top stitch from the front for the hem so to make sure I didn’t miss the fabric underneath I stitched first on the wrong side using contrast thread and the biggest stitch. Then just pulled out the contrast thread when I had stitched the two rows of hem stitching.

Wide bias binding at hem

Wide bias binding at hem

I top stitched using the Gutterman extra strong thread rather than the topstitch thread. I find this works for me better and gives a similar look. It’s not all plain sailing as there was the usual tangling up of bobbin thread I always experience with topstitching.

This is now my new favorite skirt. I really love the shape of how the cotton drill hangs.
I can see me making another version but next time I’ll buy more fabric as I think a little extra width could be added to the panels and I think the pocket bags could do with another couple of inches in depth.mj skirt side on

I did also pick up a remnant of tangerine cotton jersey with plans to make a tee, I’m not quite 100% sure about this yet, I’m just worried it’s too bright.

I don’t think there’ll be any more sewing in June as I’m off on a work trip from Monday. I’ve got a long flight so I’m planning to finish a pair of socks that I started back in February. I’m 1/3 the way through sock number two but it’s slow going…….