Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Sewaholic Robson Trench Coat

Its been a little while since my last post, in which I mentioned I was working on quite a big project. So here it is...

I made a coat!!!!

This has definitely been my biggest sewing project to date, but is also probably the item I'm most proud of. It actually wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it might be to begin with. I'd done all of the techniques needed before, it was just the the sheer volume of fabric to cut and seams to sew, bind and topstitch that was a little daunting.
I actually finished it a couple of weeks ago nearly, as its already been worn out several times, had some tea spilt on it, and left the country with me on my trip to Ibiza last week!

The pattern is 'Robson' from Sewaholic Patterns, designed with pear-shaped ladies in mind.
The fabric I used is gabardine from Calico Laine, 35% cotton/65% polyester, in a 'light sage' colour. I decided to go for a polyester blend so it will wrinkle less than pure cotton and also hopefully absorb less water. Also, how could I not use gabardine when I learnt it was invented for trench coats in the info provided by Calico Laine...
"Gabardine Fabric was created in 1879 and was used during the first world war to create officer's trench coats. Many years later, Gabardine is still the first choice of fabric for all-weather protective clothing items such as workwear, overcoats and windbreakers."
The pattern I found nice and straightforward to follow, the pictures was particularly helpful when I wasn't sure. My measurements tie up nicely with Sewaholic sizes so I made a size 10, but graded down to an 8 at the hips as I'm not that much of a pear shape. I did worry it was a bit roomy at first, but I think that's right really for a coat you may want to wear over a few layers.
I found binding the seams tricky at times as I only bought 1/2" bias tape that was quite thin when folded over. At the front/side seams I had to finish the seam allowances separately as there was too much bulk.
There are quite a few dodgy stitching lines on the seam finishes, but on the outside I'm really happy with how neat it is. I finally feel I've got the hand of topstitching, not looking at the needle really works and ensuring your stitch length is suitable.
I also made a little label with my initials free-motion stitched on, and a little hook to hang it up!

I love how stylish this coat is, its a great edition to my spring wardrobe. What's more, it looks similar to one being advertised by Burberry at the moment, but cost just a fraction of the price!

Monday, 30 March 2015

My Spring/Summer 2015 Sewing Plans!

I haven't done a post in a couple of weeks as I've not had much to share with you all. You see I'm working on quite a big project at the moment, that will hopefully be finished later this week!
In the meantime I thought I would share my plans for my spring/summer sewing this year. Now although I haven't made a pledge to not buy any clothes this year, I still intend to sew whatever I can. I love the freedom and versatility it gives you, and after a trip to Oxford Street Primark earlier I'm in no hurry to run back into the world of fast fashion!
Although I'm not participating properly in the Wardrobe Architect Challenge, I have been following the posts, and decided to take stock of what's in my own closet. Now I know everyone says 'I have nothing to wear!' but really I have very little to wear at the moment! Or more to the point, I have clothes for the 7 days of actual summer we may get in the UK this year and for winter. What I don't have is things for the endless months of mild weather; shirts, skirts and trousers.
I have only really discovered just how many indie pattern companies there are nowadays in the last few months. So countless hours have been spent pouring over the pattern collections at the likes of Named, Sewaholic and Papercut, and these are a few patterns I've decided to invest in that are simple but stylish and great wardrobe staples.
Elisalex Dress - By Hand London
 Wenona Shirt and Dress - Named Clothing
 Ginger Jeans - Closet Case Files
 Hollyburn Skirt - Sewaholic Patterns
And.... a one-off item pattern that I'm completely in love with! I'm not sure it will ever get made as I don't think I've quite got the figure for it...
Ailakki Cross Front Jumpsuit
Emily Kate.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Wrap Dress from the Great British Sewing Bee Book 2!

This has been on my sewing list since about last summer when I got the Great British Sewing Bee - Sew Your Own Wardrobe book for my birthday. I don't have a wrap dress in my wardrobe and I thought one in a mid-weight jersey would be a good all-season make for British weather.
Its been pretty chilly here the last few days, but with tights, a coat and scarf I'm just warm enough. (so yes in this picture I'm pretty darn cold!) 
I'm also off on holiday in a few weeks time and a wrap dress will be great for a beach cover up.

The fabric I used is a medium weight cotton jersey with not too much stretch so it wasn't too difficult to sew. Its a grey/blue/turquoise fabric with a sort of swirly feather print on it. (Yes, that really is the best description I can do....)
All the seams I sewed with a double stitch as is recommended in the book, sewing along the seam line then 1/4" away with a zigzag stitch. I also used a double needle to sew the hems. I've been a bit scared of doing this in the past but it's actually really straightforward and super easy for finishing knit fabric hems.

I used a navy blue pre-bought bias binding, which I've not done before. I've made my own in the past a couple of times but I'm often a bit slap-dash when cutting it up. So pre-made binding made it a lot easier and its probably the neatest binding I've done. I'm pretty proud of my topstitching too!

I'm happy with the dress and the fit, although I'm not sure i'd make another. I feel I only need one wrap dress.... it definitely fills a gap in my wardrobe though!

What's on your sewing table at the moment? I've got lots of plans for my spring summer wardrobe this year so watch this space!

Not really sure what I'm doing here... thinking pose?
Emily Kate.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Clover Trousers!

I made some trousers! (or pants depending on which side of the pond you hail from) And they even sort of fit, as long as I have no intention of eating... or sitting down.. These have been been on my sewing list for so long, but I've shyed away from making them as I was scared about the fitting process. Confession time.... I have never really done any fitting alterations. I'm pretty lucky in that I'm a fairly standard size, not too pear shaped/too tall/too small, just distinctly average. I've taken out seams before, trying things on as I go, but this is the first garment I've made that the fit really mattered and would be very obvious.

This is my second muslin, the first pair I cut a standard size 10 but they were just a touch too tight around the waist and wouldn't quite do up. I also added about 3 inches to the length as they were much too short.

I used Sarai's fitting cheatsheet, which if you're thinking of making these is an absolute must read. I decided I needed a large waist adjustment, so I added an inch. It's not quite enough and perhaps with another inch these would be perfect. I'm happy with the fit everywhere else, there's not normally many wrinkles across the front at all, I think the way I'm standing is not helping!

The fabric I used is a stretch denim I found on sale for just £2 a metre, so it was perfect for a muslin. I didn't bother with the pockets for the second pair as I found them a bit impractical. I think for my next pair i'll try and add side ones instead, Sally Oh has a great tutorial for that here.

For my next pair I'm going to try a cotton twill in black probably and then when I've perfected the fit go for something more adventurous.

All in all though, for my first ever pair of trousers and my first real fitting challenge, they're not half bad. I do feel quite like Sandy from Grease though...

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

My Technique Checklist

Following in the footsteps of bloggers such as Fiona at Diary of a Chain Stitcher, I've decided to make a technique checklist, to cover all of the sewing techniques I'd like to master.... eventually. Hopefully it will encourage me to try patterns of increasing difficulty and also give me a record of what I've already managed to do... as I do tend to forget!
  • Bound Buttonholes
  • Welt Pockets
  • Inserting a Fly Zip
  • Inserting a Lapped Zip
  • Using a Vintage Pattern
  • Bound Seams
  • Princess Seams
  • Lining a Garment 
  • Underlining a Garment
  • Attaching Belt Loops
  • Sewing a Button Placket
  • Sewing Outerwear 
  • Sewing Underwear
  • Making my own Bias Tape
  • Boning
  • Matching Stripes
  • Sewing a collar stand
  • Piping 
  • A Rolled Hem
  • Using a Twin Needle
  • Inserting an Exposed Zip
  • Sewing with Denim
  • Sewing with Chiffon
  • Sewing a Bias Cut Garment
So there you have it... stay tuned to find out how I get on!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Mimi Blouse - Love at First Stitch

Since getting the Love at First Stitch book for my birthday from Mr Makes in July, I have made all the garments, except for the Mimi blouse which as you know I put on my list of things to sew in 2015.
So I decided to go for a plain fabric rather than a pattern for my first Mimi and chose a cute turquoise viscose, thinking it would have a lovely drape.
Which it did. 
But it was such a real pain in the **** to deal with.
I have made one garment in viscose before, but I don't remember struggling half as much. Cutting out is my least favourite bit of a project and I don't think I'm as precise as I could be on a good day, let alone when the fabric is wiggling all over the place!
I found the pattern and instructions easy to follow, as always with one of Tilly's. I did have a minor panic attack when I couldn't find the neckline facing piece of the pattern, but I eventually twigged it was labelled yoke facing on the pattern sheet, but neckline facing everywhere else.
I have to say I'm not 100% sure that the blouse really suits me, I worry it is erring a little on the side of frumpy, when it looks so cute in the book. I could try cutting a size smaller, but I do quite like the loose-fitting casual look.

The collar isn't sitting flat in the photo so it looks wonky but it really is in the middle...honestly! And lets not even talk about what's going on with my right sock.... it was really cold so photos were taken super quickly!
So what do you think? Any tips for cutting out viscose fabric?

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Easiest, Tastiest Cookie Recipe Ever (and its egg and dairy free!)

When I was kid, we'd nearly always have some yummy homemade cookies or treats wanting for us when we got home from school. It was a little bit more difficult for my mum than most, as my sister and I both had allergies, to dairy, eggs and nuts. She had no choice but to make everything from scratch, long before the days of vegan recipes, and came up with loads of recipes herself. Cooking without eggs and milk doesn't have to be difficult, in fact this is quite possibly the easiest, quickest cookie recipe out there!
It basically works on a 1:2:3 ratio, with a bit of flour substituted for ground rice or almonds to make them a bit crumblier, if you fancy it. So its super easy to convert this to cups for those of you in the US. I'd try probably 1/2 cup:1 cup:1 1/2 cup unless you're feeling super hungry!


100g granulated sugar
200g margarine
250g flour
50g ground rice/almonds
Handful of dark chocolate chips


  • Cream together butter and sugar.
  • Add flour and ground rice/almonds, mix together with your fingertips.
  • Chuck in the chocolate chips and mix.
  • Shape the mixture into balls a bit smaller than a ping pong ball.
  • Put on a tray lined with greaseproof paper and flatten down with a fork.
  • Bake in the oven at 190C/gas mark 5 for around 10-12mins until they turn golden on top. Keep an eye on them, as they can go from not cooked to nearly burnt in not long at all!

These are best when fresh out the oven so the chocolate chips are still melted, and perfect with a steaming mug of something hot. Tea for me please!

Emily Kate.