Category Archives: Adventures in Overlocking

delphi dress

My Named Delphi Maxi dress …. as rather a special balldress

Oh yes Cinderella, you shall go to the ball even though you haven’t made your dress and you’ve got to get to Devon in a week’s time…. It wasn’t that I made a last minute decision to choose dress & even buy fabric – supplies were procured in reasonably good time (4-6 weeks ahead).  I just did not have the sewing time in September and October until – er- the weekend before!  But I had long envisioned the graceful style, comfort & ease of making me my first floor length ball dress in a jersey using the Named Delphi dress.  This is how it turned out.

delphi dress

First of all please allow me a smidge of smug because it turned out absolutely brilliantly.  Not only was I pleased with how it looked (unique & a bit classy), fitted (spot on & very comfy) & performed on the night,  it is the ultimate to pack & wash- unlike most balldresses.  I could have screwed it up & chucked it into my weekend bag (I loosely folded it, didn’t screw it into a ball, but it would have survived) & not a suitbag & dry cleaner in sight.

delphi dress

So let’s rewind.  It started with the pattern.  I’d been returning to the Delphi off & on, not being a maxi dress wearer, but being strangely drawn to the floaty bodice & Grecian lines.  I also wanted to make my balldress for my October charity ball as the group of girls that I went with all decided that we would wear long dresses & I didn’t have one.  I was prepared to make something with glitter & sequins but even though I was shopping for fabric a good month or so beforehand, I didn’t really leave myself a huge amount of time to do my research.  So I ended up visiting my local fabric shop in Midsomer Norton, Rose Crafts for any of you interested (a fab shop with a really surprising selection of good value fabrics).  I was almost pulling out a roll of electric blue lycra when I spotted the purple/grey crinkle jersey (a Makower fabric and not cheap cheap, about £11 per metre).  ‘Now that’s Grecian’ I thought and just as I pulled the slim roll out of the shelf, I spied the matching (Makower) jersey lace in a purple/grey and fate stepped in.  This was it.  I had my dress.  I also bought some stretch jersey lining as I planned to make an internal bra to avoid buying a strapless one and to line the skirt as the fabric could be a little sheer .  I should note that I bought far too much of the plain crinkle grey as I needed to cut the skirt across the width (so that the crinkles fall vertically) but bought the yardage advised on the pattern which aims to cut skirts down the length.  I could have saved myself some dosh there, but it seems I have enough left over to make a day to day skirt ….soon.

Gosh! A ball dress with an elastic Waist!

Gosh! A ball dress with an elastic Waist!

Onto making notes.  I made a toile using some ordinary jersey to judge waist position & length of skirt.  (My toile is now a nightdress!) I thought the length may have been designed for Amazonians & I didn’t want to waste posh fabric as I planned to make an overlocked  rolled hem)  however I didn’t really need to shorten the skirt – I cut off the equivalent of the hem on my ball dress & on my toile just made a normal kind of hem.  My toile did throw up bodice adjustments needed- There was far too much width at upper front & upper back which resulted in gaping – I therefore had to adjust the pattern by taking out a good wedge from the CF bodice front & back.  In my toile, it hangs a bit like a cowl.  Another good reason for making the toile was to test run the construction and work out how it all pieced together, enabling me to make some design decisions for the actual posh dress.  I had thought I would use fold over elastic (FOE) for the straps, but having used FOE for my toile I decided that the weight of the posh dress with lining might place too much weight on the narrow FOE straps – so I made straps using strips of posh fabric instead (not on the bias though due to the direction of the fabric crinkles, but down the length).  I also needed to work out how I was going to make an integrated bra!  How the layers would sit & sewing order.  I also needed to understand what the finished length of the bodice top layer needed to be so that I could cut my scalloped lace edge at the right edge.  As it turns out, this layer is curved and cannot use the scalloped selvedge edge at the hem- I will show you what I did later.


I was really pleased with my toile despite it being too big at my upper bodice.  The style is very flattering – & made in a jersey that hangs deliciously I was really excited to make it up in posh fabric- for real.  The waist is elastic and allows some growth & shrinkage over time (ball dresses are investment pieces afterall).  The elastic waist is also simply made with the seam joining the bodice and skirt being used as the tunnel for the elastic.  It was a very straightforward and quick make – I used my overlocker for most of it.

delphi dress

I bet you want a bit of info on making the integral bra?  This would be useful for whatever reason you were making a Delphi dress – as a summer dress or ball dress.  I looked in my patterns to find a sports bra that I have already made to get an idea for how narrow it needs to be to squash my ‘girls’ adequately to avoid bounce, & how long (from top to bottom) the bra needs to be.  (The photos show the lining/ bra in navy fabric for info).


I made a pattern using the existing Delphi bodice upper edge to get the shape of the upper bodice, used the length of the sports bra (with extras for seam allowances), and started off by drawing a line joining the width at the bottom edge of the sports bra with the width at the upper edge of the Delphi bodice.  I made the sports bra in a double piece of jersey lining & basically kept trying it on until I was happy with the fit.  It’s really important though to make sure it doesn’t vary too much away from the bodice edge that it will be joined to otherwise there is a greater risk of pulling as the size differences wrestle with each other (I have found this in the past, anyway).

I did not have black elastic for the bra!

I did not have black elastic for the bra!  This is the bra being pulled out of the top of the bodice


Once I was happy with the fit, I sewed some 1cm elastic to the bottom edge of the bra so that it was hidden & to the inside of the bra & to fit my underbust.  I then basted the bra to the upper edge of the bodice – right side of bra to wrong side of lining.  The dress is then constructed by placing the bodice top layer right side together with the wrong side of the bra (I think!  Play around with it to see how it would look once sewn if you are unsure!).

delphi dress

I also mentioned the scalloped edge of the bodice layer- in my case I used lace.  The bodice layer has a curved edge so it cannot benefit from the readily available scallops at the side on the selvedge edge.   But it didn’t stop me trying!  I cut a new pattern piece for the front & back layer as one unfolded piece so I could be careful about positioning.

One piece bodice patterns

One piece bodice patterns

I therefore cut the layer without cutting on the fold & then manually added some scallops, cut from the fabric’s selvedge, to the hem of the bodice, with a small zigzag, like sewing scalloped lace to undies.

I also said that I lined the skirt – I just cut two versions of the skirt – one in jersey lining- & basted them together at the top of the skirt, wrong sides together, before attaching skirt to bodice.  I roll hemmed both lining (A little shorter than the posh skirt) and roll hemmed the posh skirt with my overlocker.

delphi dress

And a great time was had by all.

ball laughter

I did not feel trussed up like a chicken in boning &/or magic pants.  I had plenty of room for a three course dinner & sashayed on the dance floor until it was time for carriages.  Once home I chucked it into my washing machine (cool wash) & before I knew it, it was packed away, hibernating until the next posh floor length do.


Oh yes, more another time, but I made myself some accessories to suit- this clasp bag


& some earrings out of Fimo roses.  I shall report back a bit more on that some time soon.

Ahh, happy memories.  Hope you are all having a great week.  Cheerio for now….


Vogue 1085

Vogue 1085- My Prague top

Another fabric souvenir, this time from Prague.  I managed to find a fabric shop close to Wenceslas square – Latky Galanterie – website here (not sure if it is a national fabric chain) and location in Prague on this map.

Fabric shopping in pragueA lovely shop, large and full of tidily arranged bolts of beautiful fabric.  I was visiting Prague with only hand luggage and so only looked for one special piece of fabric and sadly kept away from all the temptation

Fabric shoppingApart from a really unusual piece of jersey with fragmented patterns of the outdoors, a splash of red from the garden and colours that to be honest reminds me more of Scandinavia than summer in Prague, however, I bought it in Prague so it is my Prague top.

Prague topI wanted to preserve the pattern as much as possible – no fancy details.  I also wanted a very slouchy loose fit – it’s what the fabric whispered to me.  So I found Vogue 1085, a ‘Today’s Fit’ pattern by Sandra Betzina that has an unusual reversible wrap / cowl sleeveless jersey top and this raglan sleeved cowl neck top.  I have had this years and I think that it must be out of print now, judging from my quick search online.  I do still fancy making the sleeveless reversible top…but this is about the other style on the pattern!

Vogue 1085

I cut it in a large size for ultimate bagginess but shaped it at the side seams to give a little better definition at the waist.

Vogue 1085

I thought carefully about pattern placement so that the front view captures the part of the pattern I wanted to be the focus with that bloom of red & cottage nicely placed.

Vogue 1085

I did not have enough fabric to make full length sleeves (in terms of the pattern’s 3/4 length sleeves) so I cut some extra wide cuffs to extend the arm length a tad.

Vogue 1085

I also wanted to finish the hem with a fabric band instead of turning the hem & stitching – I made the band just a little smaller than the hem, so that it drew it in a bit from being so slouchy.

The back

The back

I know that the fabric’s pattern plays tricks with your eyes – the raglan sleeves hardly show.

Love the cowl!

Vogue 1085

I have started to wear this a bit more now the weather is cooling & have had compliments galore.  I give the fabric credit for this as it really is all about the fabric!

Have you enjoyed sewing fabric souvenirs?  Do you love wearing them & remembering where you bought the fabric?

wembley cardigan

Seamwork Wembley Cardigan

Hello all!  This one is a short & sweet one – reflecting the short & sweetness of the sewing!  And the photos …. forgive me…. you may not learn a great deal about the garment I am talking about because, well, it just doesn’t show up much in them!  Is there any point ?  Well bear with me, you can get the gist plus I have not edited the cat out of some of them & I know there are a few cat lovers out there.  What more reason do you need to read on?

wembley cardigan

I have made me the perfect summer cardigan.  Even though I love round neck cardigans (Muse Jenna cardigan is my ultimate fave) sometimes you need a v neck or a straight edge cardigan to wear with some of those shirt dresses or just on top of t-shirts.

wembley cardigan

I did not consciously aim to make a straight edge cardigan when I got my precious black wool jersey out & played around with the patterns I already had.  However, I also had the Wembley Cardigan, a Colette Patterns Seamwork magazine pattern, printed out ready to sew.  I’d recently made my Sew Over It Vintage shirt dress and thought it was an idea pairing.

Wembley cardigan

Zoom.  There is not that much sewing to the Wembley cardigan – shoulder seams, sleeves to set in with cuffs, waist & neck bindings.  That’s all.

And I have to say that this is a really useful style for spring/ summer.  I’ve been pulling it out of the cupboard a lot & it is very mixable with trousers & skirts & dresses.  What a winner!  Has anyone else come to the same conclusion about the Wembley cardigan?

And if you got this far you might be interested to know that that massive bush of a hairdo has been tamed now.  No more grandma bouffant.  That makes me feel better already!

coco top

Coco top with a yoke

Hello all!  I am in that place where my blogging is not keeping up with my sewing (or even my life ) at the moment.  I might (a big might) write another one about that as there were some sewing adventures & some compulsory fabric purchasing (shortened to ‘CFP’ & defined as unavoidable weakness when in proximity to fabric.  I suffer from this a lot & it is virtual as well as a tangible condition.  I suspect I might not be alone ).

Coco top with a yoke

But for now I am going to rewind a few months to show something I made as a gift (hence no pics of me wearing it, much to your relief as I haven’t got my hair in order today).

This is a Coco top & I added a yoke to it both in the bodice and at the sleeve tops.

Coco top with a yoke

It ‘s not that hard to add a yoke – you just need to be clear about where you want it to sit (I suggest that a horizontal seam right across the fullest part of your bust is not necessarily the best place 😉 )  And you could stop there, but I wanted the tops of the sleeves to mirror the yoke on the bodice.  So once I had drawn my bodice yoke line, I then needed to align the sleeves as if they were sewn in to work out where to continue the yoke line in the sleeve pattern.  Tempting as it might be to just slice through your original pattern you need to make copies of the bodice & sleeves because you need to add seam allowances to the horizontal seams.  But then you end up with a pattern to use again.  Reward for your new pattern drafting !

Coco top with a yoke

The fabric is some soft mid weight jersey in a cream/ green stripe that I had bought with this very intention a bit too long ago to expect it to still be in stock.  I can’t even remember where the cream ponte came from.

I have been having a lot of success using clear elastic on turned over necklines in knits like this.  I was reminded of it when this helpful tutorial was published by Maria Denmark on adding invisible elastic to knit necklines

Clear elastic attached to wrong side of neckline

Clear elastic attached to wrong side of neckline

It involves two passes at the neckline, sewing the elastic to the wrong side before folding (with an all important steam of the iron in between) to finish the neckline.

Sewing from the right side to finish the neckline with a folded edge, elastic sandwiched in the middle

Sewing from the right side to finish the neckline with a folded edge, elastic sandwiched in the middle

I find it gives a better level of stability to the neckline (as I sit here in a teeshirt I made that has a boatneck & gapes dreadfully).

coco topAnd to finish these adorable nautical buttons- no more left now.  Thanks Zoe, who sent them to me all those months years ago.  They are from Textile Garden – whilst having a quick roam amongst some stunners, I came across some anchor-readys, there may be more if you look harder… .


hudson pants

Springtime Hudsons

Fancy seeing yet more lounge wear that has been added to my repertoire?  After making floral summer Hudson pants, Arctic Hudson pants (both of which get a sound wearing), the new kid on the block are my Springtime Hudson pants made out of some delicious purple jersey.

hudson pants

Read more about them at the Minerva Blogging network here, and find out why they are not  Kwik Sew K3835.


mccalls 7261 feature

Luxury running top McCalls 7261

I have not posted anything for a while about running have I?  That itself could be a post of its own, reflective perhaps that my running has taken a bit of a back seat to the other stuff going on.  Maybe I will find time to write about that sometime.  Maybe.

mccalls 7261 (3)

But this is something I have made for running.  Hurrah!  And it has been worn on quite a few runs already!  Double hurrah!  This is McCalls 7261  M7261 which has long sleeved tops with collar & hood options & cuffs with thumbholes (gotta love those thumbholes for a winter running top 😉  ).  This pattern also has colour blocked leggings which I haven’t looked into.  So quite an interesting pattern!  Almost a winter running capsule wardrobe!

mccalls 7261

The top has princess seams & raglan sleeves.  I went for the version with the two-piece cowlish neck.  It’s like a built in mini Buff.

mccalls 7261 (6)

I also wanted to make the version with the thumbholes – I mean this would be a full on winter running top.



But what about the fabric?  It’s from Spoonflower (2m bought  on one of the free postage days last year ) – Birds & Bees in butter yellow – using the Performance Knit – this is the lesser stretch active wear fabric (NB not suitable for leggings which need high stretch,  the Sport Lycra is best for leggings)  This though feels so silky to the skin & performs great when you’re running & get a bit warm.  It also has amazing drape which means that the collar on this top is absolutely glorious & cascades beautifully.  I love sewing with this fabric & I love wearing it.  Truly it feels luxurious.  And the design is so cute & unusual.  But also quite understated.  I love it.  The birds are so cuuuute & singing to me as I run!

Sorry about the apparent strain! Just my arm position...

Sorry about the apparent strain! Just my arm position…

I have not that much to say about the sewing except that it all came together really nicely.  I used my overlocker (of course)!  except for hems & using a narrow zig zag to understitch the seam allowance at the collar.

mccalls 7261 (2)

I did also machine baste the collar to the neckline with my regular machine using a long straight stitch before sewing with my overlocker- just as a precaution & much easier to sew trickier seams on your overlocker when there are no pins in the way!

mccalls 7261 (5)Here are some more photos of the back …

mccalls 7261 (7)mccalls 7261 (8)

I’m not modelling it very well, twisting it a little out of shape.  But it shows it loves to slink.  I did make a size 12, as I prefer a loose fit.    I’ve enjoyed everything about McCalls 7261- so far.  There is finally more choice in the  activewear patterns being released by some of the big 4 & if this top is anything to go by, they are really interesting & wearable.  What do you think?

circle skirt

Possibly the easiest circle skirt in the world…

Happy Sunday everyone!  Hope you have been doing a bit of what you love (even better if it’s a lot of what you love 🙂 )…

I have had a glorious Saturday afternoon of sewing, prompted by an urge that I just possibly could make a whole new outfit for a special birthday party this afternoon.  Having just some finishing touches to make for a top (one that I will reveal properly  in another post, but it’s peeping out in today’s pics….) I got it into my head that I could actually conjure up a new skirt, & cami to wear underneath this top (that will also be revealed separately).  Because this is about the circle skirt.

circle skirt

I have a bit of a thing for circle skirt exploration at the moment as I shall be making an AWESOME one very shortly – I just need to complete my supplies before I can start sewing, but it is cut out ready.  I am being such a blimmin awful tease so far aren’t I?  All promises of things to come, & not much else.  OK, I was trying to complete the backstory for making a circle skirt this time.  Since revisiting this circle skirt , & just how wearable & cute it is with cropped tops & even heels, I have been drawn to making more.  This one today is a full circle skirt.  Like, all one piece, no seams.  For real.  Spread it out on the floor and it’s like a donut.  (one that’s decidedly more dough than hole).

circle skirt

That is one of the joys of making a circle skirt.  It doesn’t have to have seams as long as you make it with an elasticated waist.  And gone are the days of elasticated waists being frumpy.  When you have a swish circle skirt & combine it with some deep elastic, the elastic itself takes on a role as part of the design- almost a built in waspi belt, but without the buckle.  Mix it up a bit with an elastic in a feature colour or you can even get patterned elastics.  What’s stopping you?  If I wanted I could have made mine more cinched by making it a bit smaller – a bit of guestimating going on for my elastic.   However, the skirt succeeds at staying on my waist, nice & comfy.  I reckon I could wear this for days on end, the kind of thing that would also be very comfy to travel in.  It’s that easy to wear.

I made the skirt using a length of jersey that I got from Croftmill before Christmas thinking that it would make a nice skirt for a gift, however, I did not get enough for the kind of skirt I wanted to give.  Classic ordering fail on my part.  It’s got swirls & flowers embellishing it – in relief, like ribbon embroidery but with strips of he jersey.  But for all that prettiness it is still a basic black skirt so will be super mixable with other garments & for different occasions.



So making it.  I already mentioned that I cut a circle – folded the fabric into quarters to make it super easy & used my Pavolva skirt pattern as a basis, but had a bit of squaring up to do.  There’s explanation for how to cut your circle skirt in one piece here at Donna Carol’s blog.  And don’t forget the By Hand circle skirt app that helps calculate yardages & what the radius of your waist circle needs to be for the kind of circle skirt you want to make to fit you.


Right side and wrong side of waistband.

So once I had cut my circle with a hole in the middle, I then measured my elastic (waist + seam allowances)  & joined it into a circle with a narrow zig zag  seam.  I also used a zig zag to stitch the seam allowances down.  (You might want to stay stitch the skirt’s waist before attaching the elastic but I didn’t, doesn’t mean to say what I did was right!!  NB if you do stay stitch with a straight stitch it really will only be a temporary stitching line and may actually snap in several places if you leave it in when you wear it as it will get stretched.  Why staystitch you ask?  Well, it might make it easier for you to control the application of the elastic to this edge….) soooo….

Right side showing how I zig zagged the seam allowances of the elastic

Right side showing how I zig zagged the seam allowances of the elastic

Marking the elastic into quarters I also marked quarters along the skirt’s waist.  With right sides together, bottom edge of elastic to top waist edge of skirt I matched elastic markers to waist markers.   It was then a case of stitching the elastic to the skirt with a suitable stretch stitch – in my case using my overlocker, but a zig zag will do just as well.  I had to stretch the elastic to match the skirt’s waist which results in the elastic bringing the waist to the right size as this edge will probably have stretched out.


Handmade Jane has got a great tutorial for attaching elastic to a waistband here….slightly different to mine & better if you want to see every bit of your elastic if it has a pattern on it.

OK, so nearly with a finished skirt, I let it hang overnight as there is a lot of bias action going on here.  Next day I measured up from the floor (using my dummy, Barbarella which has a chalk marker- this is the singular most useful thing about having a dressmakers dummy in my opinion) I marked the same distance from the ground all the way round.  I then used my overlocker to finish the edge & cut off the excess all in one go.  Pow!

Hem & cut all in one go

Hem & cut all in one go

It was just a normal overlock stitch, using the chalk markings as a guide to get an even hem.  You could use a rolled hem, or with a regular machine cut the hem evenly then finish with a zig zag perhaps or just leave the cut edge as I did here.  (And it’s still absolutely OK!)

The finished hem

The finished hem

So, a super duper easy peasey circle skirt.  Super duper easy photos too….

You will next see this skirt when I tell you about the rest of the outfit.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend folks x


Minerva make: Rachel Wrap dress by Maria Denmark

I took a  sojourn from the Minerva Blogging Network & my usual mega obsessive sewing, & replaced it with all things moving house etc but am pleased to take up where I left off now that life in the country is in a steady state & sewing is very much back on the agenda. Whoopity whoop!!

Rachel wrap dress

I’ve made the Rachel Wrap dress by Maria Denmark & for my full write up visit the Minerva Blogging Network here.  Photos are taken by my very own David Bailey father, can you tell ? 😉

joan dress

How I made the Joan dress out of a knit

Hello again!  Are you tempted to make a Joan dress in a knit?  I used a ponte from Girl Charlee Uk which is lovely quality & a joy to sew with as well.  But what did I do differently to take the Joan dress pattern that is designed to be used with woven fabrics, to get an almost nice fitting version in a beautifully comfy knit?

joan dress

As promised I’m going to share the method & adjustments I used – I am not saying there isn’t an even better way to do this.  But it worked for me!!  Maybe it’ll launch you on your own journey to give it a go?  Coming up with your own adaptations & ideas?

First of all I prepared myself with this article (very timely) in February’s Seamwork magazine on how you can use patterns that are designed for wovens for knit fabrics.  It’s an excellent piece written by Christina Haynes & tells you what to consider about how adaptable the pattern is, how you can break the rules, how darts & closures are not always needed,   It gave me food for thought & prepared me.

joan dress

However, I think my best preparation, as already mentioned, is that I had seen how a tie neck bodice could be made in a knit with the Colette Patterns’ Moneta dress.    I also prepared myself to make the bodice as a toile & sew each seam in basting stitches to fit before overlocking.  And this I did (although why I did not get that sway back right irks me a bit as I will have to go back & adjust it).

Fitting – from woven to knit

So, after some thought I decided to make the Joan dress in my usual size & if necessary make it smaller.  I also felt confident that I would not need any kind of fastenings, so cut the back pieces (bodice and skirt) on the fold (minus the seam allowances) The ponte de roma is a reasonably stable knit with some stretch but not toooooo much.

joan (2)

I was going to make this pattern up with darts & all because Joan is a shapely darling & just because you don’t always use darts with a knit, doesn’t mean they are banned or wrong.  I think the first time I used darts in a knit was with one of Maria Denmark’s dresses, Audrey dress, which uses back darts for shaping).  So I felt that the ponte would behave positively if I stuck to the darts to make this dress super shapely.  And it did.  I just had to make the darts bigger & take much bigger side seams.  As I said, I sewed it all using a long basting straight stitch (with a ballpoint needle) to then work out what fitting I needed to do.

joan dress

Long straight ‘basting ‘ stitch – see the adjustment I am making from the original stitching line

Once I was close to the final fit, I then used my overlocker for the final seams.  NB I basted the side seams but did not overlock them until later, see below!

Here is how much I took the darts in by.  And the side seams.

joan dress darts

Please look closely – there are two lines of stitching, honest!

I plan to make more Joans in a knit, so made a copy of the bodice pattern as adapted for knits…will save me time next go.  All in all by my reckoning the side seams came in by a further 1cm each plus the extra shaping at the darts.

I also used this approach when the time came to fit the skirt – sewing with my basting straight stitch before using the overlocker when I had done the fitting to make the final seams.

So that is how I got the fit (almost, bar sway back.)

Stabilising seams – from woven to knit

You wouldn’t generally stabilise seams in a woven, but I always stabilise my shoulder seams in any knit tops/ dresses that I make by sewing clear elastic, seam binding, or even narrow ribbon in the seam allowance.  My overlocker has a special gap in the foot which allows you to thread through tape/ elastic (providing it is narrow enough) so that it becomes part of the stitching process as you serge the seam.

I also stabilised the waist seam – with clear elastic.  You wouldn’t be able to use non stretch binding or ribbon here otherwise you would not be able to get the dress on & off without a zip.  However I think it is needed & I sewed the seam attaching the bodice to the skirt, then used my regular machine to attach the elastic (not at all stretched, just flat) to the seam allowance.  This adds stability & recovery should the seam get under pressure with being put on/ taken off.  That’s my thinking, anyway, there might be other reasons that it is useful, it certainly will not hurt it.

Inserting the sleeves- from woven to knit

Of course you know that I am going to tell you that I inserted the sleeves flat, not needing to gather the sleeve heads, but carefully used the stretchy properties of the fabric to accommodate sleeves into armscyes.  (I had removed the basting stitches before being able to do this) The sleeves were then completed with the side seams of the bodice in one single seam.  (Which I knew would be OK, as I had already fitted the bodice by basting it together).

Process for attaching the collar & tie neck – from woven to knit

There were some adjustments I made to the process for adding the collar & tie neck.  I still stay stitched the neckline, front & back (with a long machine straight stitch).  I also cut the tie pieces on the bias, (as per woven pattern) as these pieces have to work hard to go around the curves & despite working in a knit, I think you need the bias to max out those curvalicious properties).  Next time I will remember that I only need to cut the collar as one piece too!  After all there is no centre back seam to allow for…But, here’s the main difference between the pattern for the woven & the changes I made- the pattern creates a lined bodice as a woven & this is how the collar’s finish is kept nice & neat, hiding the raw edges within the lining.

joan dress

Now although my raw edges would be nice & overlocked, I did not want them peaking out at unforeseen moments, so I took the route taken with attaching the collar to the Moneta dress, sewing the right side of the collar to the wrong side of the bodice neckline, then flipping the collar out to the right side.   This leaves the inside of the neckline, an area that I felt might come on show accidentally, super neat.

Attaching the collar - following on with the overlocker

Attaching the collar – following on with the overlocker

(Tip: To make sure I got the collar sitting in the right places I also basted the collar on first of all, with a long straight machine stitch, before passing over with the overlocker.  This is much easier than negotiating pins & the tie neck has some very specific match points needed & if they slip it would be more than a bit of a spoiler).    However, remember I mentioned how the bias pieces are needed to navigate the curve of the neckline?  Well I felt that even with a hearty press, the collar might not stay put on its own accord.  I took counter measures & actually slip stitched the collar edge to the neck seam, as that is how the collar liked to sit – kind of folded along its length to hug the curve of the neckline.

joan dress

That might not have made any sense at all to you, so here’s a close up.  The collar is permanently (well as permanent as my hand stitching) in this position.

The kick pleat

Now the woven version of the Joan dress relies on the lining to help with the finish of the kick pleat.  For a knit version, with no lining, you just have to make sure you create the same kind of overlap, securing where necessary to sustain it.

joan dress

I trimmed some of the vertical pleat extension off for the edge that would be underneath the pleat & turned the long vertical edge over & secured it with a regular straight stitch.

joan dress

The top layer of the kick pleat does not have any vertical stitching on it, but I have reinforced the diagonal top edge of the pleat with regular straight stitch.  This also holds the top edge in place.  The hem holds the bottom edge in place and together I think this is all that is needed.

Finally hems.

This is  a figure hugging dress which means the hem of the skirt could be subject to some stretch with a stretch fabric.  Sleeve hems are definitely areas of potential stretch stress.  So hem the Joan dress in whichever way you usually hem your knits- twin needle, coverstitch or triple zig zag.

What do you think?  Tempted?  Go on!

JOan  dress




Joan dress (by Sew Over It) in a knit!

Well hello Joan!

Joan 1

How many of you were in general swoon when you saw that the Joan dress by Sew Over It was released last autumn?  I Know I went into meltdown as it came out when I was camping sewing & I just desperately wanted to make one for myself ( but couldn’t for various reasons).  However let me tell you a secret…even when I saw it back then, I harboured a fantasy to make Joan with her sexy curves & drop dead gorgeous tie neck….in a knit.  The ultimate in style meets comfort & easy care.  And if you have followed me for a bit, you know that those principles are the ones I prize very highly for everyday sewing/ wearing.

joan dress

So the Joan dress is a fitted dress, with 3/4 length sleeves and a cute tie neck.  It has a separate bodice/ skirt & on me you can see that this seam sits above my natural waistline.  It has bust darts, waist darts (front & back – bodice & skirt), back neck shoulder darts & a kick pleat.  Clearly inspired by Joan Holloway from Mad Men, this is a very grown up dress & one that is super flattering.


Having made the Colette Patterns’ Moneta – a knit bodice with a tie neck I felt confident that I could adapt the Joan dress ( a pattern for use with woven fabrics)  to make in a knit.  Potentially I could lose the zip & the lining, sewing all of it (or most of it) on my overlocker.  The fabric needed to be a stable knit, and I thought a ponte de roma would do the job.

So over I went to Girl Charlee UK, specialists in all sorts of knit fabric to peruse their pontes.  And I have remarked before how extensive their range is.


Well, I shortlisted three and asked the lovely folk at Girl Charlee to send me samples & opted to make my Joan dress out of the houndstooth in black/ café.  (They were kind enough to provide me the fabric – thank you!)  This is not my usual colour, (I would have usually gone for a monochrome dogtooth had there been one) but I knew it would fit with my wardrobe & I think the café background is warmer & less severe than a white background so a cool discovery & more gentle for winter skintone.  I decided to go for pattern as I thought it would be a bit  more racy than the maroon which would have been a lovely Joan and a safe bet.   All of the samples felt delicious to the touch – lovely quality, & I have to say, this houndstooth was a delight to sew, but is so soft to wear.  It is lovely.

joan dress

To make it up, I had to do some serious fitting,& I think I could have made a bit more of a tweak on the sway back (& actually I still could since this dress has a separate bodice/ skirt so in theory I could review that back waist seam some more …)  I bet you could really get that Joan Holloway figure hugging maxed out even more, however this is the fit that I am comfy with.

joan dress

There were a few changes & allowances I had to make when adapting the Joan dress pattern for sewing with a knit, & I will write about those in the next blog post.

joan dress

So I am going to leave you with some photos of the finished Joan dress & the wear report.

joan dress

Folks, I felt strangely girly (Or actually it should be ‘womanly’ in the most positive sense) – & comfy – at the same time. Win!  And then  I washed it, hung it on the line & when dry put it straight into the wardrobe.  No ironing.  Score!  It’s got the perfect amount of cosy for this time of year too – worn with black tights & a cardi I am sorted.

Tune in next time if you would like to see what I did to make the  Joan dress in a knit.

PS Trying out different locations in my cottage as backdrops – this is the hallway that combines as a dining area (not that you get to see the dining area!)

Disclaimer I was lucky enough to have been sent a copy of the pattern by Sew Over It & the fabric was also provided to me by Girl Charlee UK in return for a review.  All views are honest & my own.