Category Archives: Pattern hack

High street hack: Tied Inari in merino knit

Just a quick one today. I saw this dress in All Saints yesterday for £98, came home and made myself one for precisely zero in a couple of hours. And people ask why we sew?! :)

As soon as I saw the dress in the store, I thought ‘Inari with ties!’, so that’s the base pattern I used. All I changed was to scoop out the neckline a bit and add the ties.

To do that I basically completed the entire dress, made my ties (2″ strips sewn into a tube) and pinned them in place while wearing the dress. I found I preferred them set into the front of the dress rather than the side seams, so I sewed them on using a small zigzag, directly over the raw edge of the tie. The zigzagging gets concealed when the ties are done up so it looks quite neat.

I used a gorgeous merino jersey knit which The Fabric Store kindly sent me to try out. It’s the 200gsm merino in charcoal specifically. This knit is just amazing to work with – it’s stable, loves both the overlocker and sewing machine, and takes very well to a steamy press. It gives a beautiful luxurious sheen and drape to the final garment as well. You would not find knit of this quality in a £100 high street dress, put it that way!

The ties lend themselves to being arranged a few other ways too…

I’m reaching more for trousers than dresses lately in these awkward in-between days where I want to ditch the black tights but it’s not quite bare-leg temperatures yet, but I can’t wait to wear this with sandals when spring properly kicks off.

Kniti Midi Inari

Inari hack1

Sewing time is short right now and I need guaranteed results, so I’ve been doing quite a few repeat makes of TNT patterns lately. This dress merges the best bits of two of my wardrobe essentials to get another dreamily simple easy-to-wear everyday dress. Guess the two references from my recent makes…?

Inari hack2

Answer: the base pattern is the Named Inari dress, and the fabric choice and mods were inspired by my Style Arc Celine. I wear one or the other of those weekly (and have made a second stripy Inari already) and now this one’s gone straight into rotation too.

Inari dress hack

The pattern ‘hack’ was really easy:
– Freehand convert the round neckline to a V. Tip: cut the V shape in a slightly concave (curving outwards) line rather than straight diagonal: it sits nicer on the upper chest.
– Cut the front as a pair rather on the fold, adding seam allowance, as it’s easier to make a nice V-neck if you sew the shoulder seams, then sew the neckband on, then seam the CF
– Add six inches to the length
– The tie is a separate skinny piece, sewn RS together as a tube then turned RS out, the ends tucked in and sewn closed.

Inari hack3

The fabric’s the same as my Celine, cheapo poly-blend rib knit from MyFabrics, but in navy instead of green. The fabric’s held up really well on my Celine, no bobbling/pilling yet despite many washes. I’m going to buy yet more for future variations on this theme.

Inari hack4

The Inari is designed for either woven or knits, so I didn’t alter the sizing. I think the pattern even includes instructions and a pattern piece to do a neckband for knits instead of the facings. I added about 1.5″ onto the sleeve length and left off the bands.

Inari hack5

One final detail was to leave a small slit at the centre front – easy because of the new CF seam. I was going to level off the hem but decided I quite liked the small extra detail of the stepped hem. I forgot to take a photo without the belt, but it looks pleasingly sack-like and cocoon-y, so it’s really two looks in one. All in all, it’s cycle-friendly, comfy and took like an hour to sew. I need more makes like this in my life right now!

Green Celine

Style-Arc-Celine5

Well, hello there. What’s new? I got a new rug and tidied up my mantelpiece…

I’m sorry for a bit of an unintended extended absence round these parts lately. A lot of things seemed to collide at once in my life the last few weeks, such as:

– Two hellish weeks doing jury service. Honestly, if you get asked, run a mile!
– Work kicking up a gear, culminating in pretty crazy trip to Iceland.
– Lending my camera to my sister because she got a new puppy, and subsequently buying a new one jointly with Josh, which he promptly took on holiday with him.
– The turbulent news from my own country and the rest of the world generally not making me want to leave my bed…

Style-Arc-Celine1

I have managed to fit in a bit of sewing though, if not blogging, so I have a nice backlog of projects to share. Starting with this, my new favourite dress. It’s green, it’s midi, it feels like I’m wearing a big comforting hug, and I love it.

Style-Arc-Celine

The basis for the pattern was the Style Arc Celine, though you’d be mistaken for thinking it’s the more famous Named Kielo, especially given the tweaks I made. I bought Celine over Kielo because I know how well Style Arc patterns fit me and they’re so very easy to work with: one pattern on the sheet, nice paper, easy to cut, seam allowances at the ready. Also it came with optional short sleeves which I wanted, though I think Kielo has a free extension pack for sleeves now too.

Style-Arc-Celine3
Style-Arc-Celine2

So I basically hacked the Celine to make it look more like Kielo: adding 6 inches to the length and straightening out some of the skirt’s flare; adding extra-long skinny ties onto the wrap sections; and merging the front and back princess-seamed panels into single front and back pieces. (There is some shaping built into the seams, so for a woven I’d use the panels; for a knit I thought it was safe to simply overlap the excess where the princess panels curve outwards.) There’s loads of ways to tie the dress to get different looks, but I think the most flattering on me is a crossover at the front with the ties knotted at the back.

Style-Arc-Celine4

Knits aren’t amongst the recommended fabrics for Celine, but I didn’t change anything else except switching the neck facing for a band. The fabric is a ribbed knit from MyFabrics. My god this fabric is lovely: yes, it’s polyacrylic, but it’s £3 a metre, snuggly soft, and comes in loads of colours, so I might be snapping up more. It was painfully difficult to cut – my rotary cutter was going NOPE over all the ridges, plus the pattern pieces are huge and awkward so I had to move from my sewing room onto the kitchen floor to have enough space. But once cut it came together quickly and was easy to work with, even the hemming, which I was slightly dreading but came up lovely using a walking foot.

Style-Arc-Celine6

It’s a dress that attracts a lot of comments and compliments, yet it’s secret pyjama comfortable, which is really my preferred criteria for clothing and why it’s amongst my favourite garments right now. I’ve worn it on a flight, to work, it’s cycle friendly, and I’d feel fine wearing it out in the evening too: not many styles you can say that about.

Back soon with more! How have you been?

V1501: black midi edition

Vogue 1501

Sometimes I swear to remake a pattern again and it doesn’t happen for a long time, if ever, but in the case of Vogue 1501 I had such a ~vision for a black midi version that I went out hunting for fabric to make it happen immediately, and spent last week sewing it up.

Vogue 1501

To be honest I was just setting out to copy the Klein dress from the pattern designer Rachel Comey’s ready to wear line. (Apparently I even copied the shoes, ha ha.) I made a few fitting and stylistic tweaks to the pattern as follows:

  • Added 6 inches to the length of the skirt plus knee-high side seam splits.
  • Gathered rather than pleated the front skirt and bodice into the waistband
  • Graded out the back side seams to adjust for the tight fit across the bum in my first one
  • Rounded out the bottom edges of the bodice for a different look (and hemmed it using bias strips)

Vogue 1501
Vogue 1501

The fabric is black ‘powder touch’ polyester from The Textile Centre in Walthamstow. The pattern does work well in a crisp cotton like i used last time but I think it’s especially nice in something drapier.

Vogue 1501

Despite being a bit out there for my usual style (I’ve never owned a dress practically ankle length long) I bloody love this dress and feel really comfortable in it. I feel like it will join the ranks of things I’ll reach for on those ‘I’ve got nothing to wear’ days, and the poly fabric will make it really easy to care for.

Minimal cord jumpsuit

Cord jumpsuit

I’ve waxed on before about how much I love my Roberts dungarees and they’re a total wardrobe staple for me, so more jumpsuit type things have always been in my sewing plans. I’ve made another set of overalls since, but they were a wearable toile and while they certainly are wearable I wanted to rework them with a few tweaks.

Cord jumpsuit

I used the same vintage pattern, McCall’s 9077, as a basis, but traced it out, removing nearly all of the design details and refining the fit a bit. The fit still isn’t perfect around the top; next time I’m going to pivot the straps inwards as they are too wide-set and like to slip off my shoulders.

Cord jumpsuit

I used a fine pin-dotted cotton corduroy from Miss Matatabi. I had 2m and it was only 41″ wide so I had to do some very creative cutting to make the long pieces fit onto my yardage. I added a back waist seam, one of the back legs is cut on the cross-grain, the crotch is pieced, and the upper back is pieced in about 4 pieces. Luckily none of that shows up in real life or photos, though I quite enjoyed pointing it out to my colleagues.

Cord jumpsuit

I wanted bigger pockets but this was literally all the yardage I had left, so they are tiny useless pockets that fit nothing.

Cord jumpsuit

I didn’t feel like doing facings or binding (and had no fabric left) so all the edges are finished by simply turning and hemming, which worked surprisingly OK.

to sew board

On a tangent, I had a couple of comments on my post about swatching for spring that it’s interesting to have a peek into how I plan what I want to make, as well as the projects themselves. And to be honest I spend far more time on the planning/dreaming phase than the actual making, so it’s a nice thing to write about.

pinterest

Pinterest is obviously a great tool for collecting inspiration. I have boards for each type of garment (dresses, tops, bottoms, jumpsuits) along with some more general boards with ideas for outfits and wardrobe planning. Recently I also started a To sew list to extract all the things from the various boards that I want to make imminently. Generally I’ll only add stuff to my to-sew list board when I have a good idea of the fabric and pattern I want to use. My first make using this system was actually my Melilot blouse, which was based on this pin, and this is the second!

jumpsuits

Up next, I want to make a floatier culotte-leg jumpsuit based on this pin, and I have some perfect chambray-coloured linen mix in my stash. It’s really nice to have a list of things I want to make that I know are going to work in my wardrobe, so when I sit down to sew I know I’m going to get something useful and highly wearable at the end.

Dos Mayas

Mayas

I picked out Marilla Walker’s Maya pattern again recently, and ended up making two garments with it as the basis. I’ve worn my first Maya so much that’s it’s starting to look worse for wear, so another was definitely required.

Maya top

Maya top

I threw a metre of this gorgeous new Nani Iro double gauze into a recent Miss Matatabi order and managed to squish a Maya out of it by taking a couple of inches off the length. I also wanted to play with the stripes a bit as usual, so cut the lower half of the front on the crossgrain. The lower half is also cut on the fold, eliminating the button band – I was trying to go for a popover placket effect without the daunting task of sewing a tower placket.

Maya dress

Maya dress
Maya dress

To turn Maya into a dress, I simply cut the top at waistline length and added a gathered elasticated skirt. I like the resulting retro kinda vibe – it reminds me of the 1980s’ take on ’50s shirtwaist day dresses.

P3041380

Maya dress

The equally luscious fabric is an Anna Maria Horner rayon called Helios, its crazy pegasus print made more subtle by the moody teal colouring. I got it shipped from the US and got stung with a customs charge, though I think it still wound up cheaper than I would have paid here. And luckily it was dreamy to work with and to wear so it’s worth the cost.

Mayas

On both garments I used self-bias to finish the neckline instead of the included facing, due to both preference and fabric scarcity. Also neither button band has real buttonholes since they aren’t needed for access – I just stitched on the buttons through both layers – making these a quick and gratifying sew that have gone right into wardrobe rotation. Marilla’s patterns always seem to have those special qualities of sewing joy and extreme wearability – I’m excited to see her next release, which is coming very soon