I have recently subscribed to Love Sewing magazine for inspiration and free patterns. I was excited when issue 53 had a dungaree pattern to try, McCalls M7547. They have a shorts version but the shorts were a little short and so I used the full trouser pattern (D) and made it wider to make a looser pair of shorts in exciting floral cotton. I also used ALL the pockets. You can never have too many pockets!
I always have to make some adjustments to patterns because I'm tall and in my experience McCalls designs for tiny, short women but I had to make a HUGE amount of adjustments to make these fit.
I have a short top half (for my height I suppose but that makes it about average): the straps only just fit and are certainly not able to be folded over to be adjustable. Unless you are a child, you will need to add more length to them, especially if you have any discernible bust.
I added 2" to the crotch depth and that wasn't quite enough: it's still a little tight. I would recommend adding at least 1" if you are of average height and more if you are tall.
I am always very honest when I look at the sizing on the back of the pattern, even if it tells me a number I don't like: you would be foolish not too. Pattern sizing does not correspond to shop-bought clothes and you normally have to go up a size or too so it's nothing to worry about. Despite that, I found the pattern very tight fitting, both around the hips and the leg. In the end, I had to use 5mm seams to make the jeans do up, which meant that I didn't have enough material for a lapped zip and had to use a regular one, which looks pretty messy and is quite visible. I recommend going up a size from the measurements for a reasonably fitted shape and two sizes for a nice slightly baggy dungaree, which is how I believe a dungaree should look: they are not a form-fitting catwalk style but for slouching.
I plan to make some more, full length ones in the Autumn out of cord and these are the adjustments I will make:
-Go 2 sizes up (size 18)
-Add 3" to leg depth at top (I only added 2" and it's a bit tight in the crotch when you sit or try to climb stairs 2 at a time)
-Add 4" to the leg length
- Widen the legs so they fit around my clearly enormous thighs (thanks, McCall's) and also add a flare from the knee because that's always fun. They claim to be flared but they only are if you are a stick insect. I dread to think how tight the skinny legs are!
- Add 4" to the straps so that they can actually be adjustable.
mad This weekend I finished making these glamorous wide leg trousers. I managed to 'borrow' some beautiful silk from my mother's stash and knew it needed to be made into something special.
I think I got the pattern free in a sewing magazine that I picked up at the station while waiting for a train, enticed by the free patterns. I'm not sure which one. I really liked the idea of wide leg floaty trousers for walking along the beach or sipping coctails on a summer evening and thought this fabric would do perfectly.
The pattern is very simple to follow. I only made a few changes: I sewed french seams so that the fabric wouldn't fray and made them longer. I'm quite tall but these trousers are ridiculously short considering the model is pictured wearing them in heels. They only have allowances for a narrow hem as well. So I added 5" and used 1" on that for a wider hem. I also added 1" to the seat but in hindsight could have added a little more (maybe 1.5-2") and I don't have a very tall body- I often use petite patterns. I was a little worried about the fabric requirements as I had half a metre less than suggested and a narrower width but it fitted even with the extra length and without any complicated Tetris.
Overall, I'm pleased with the result and look forward to stepping out in my billowing trous.
My recent project has been making a suit for the SO who started a real job recently and had to update his wardrobe (shirt posts to follow). I used a grey pinstripe suiting fabric that the eBay seller claimed was designer Japanese fabric (I have since noticed Asian men in shiny grey suits so this could be true). It has a slight sheen and no stretch.
The pattern I used was a Burda suit pattern; it was the only men's suit pattern I could find on Jaycotts. I'd never used a Burda pattern before and I'm pretty unimpressed. There are about half as many instructions and diagrams than other patterns and fewer labels on the patterns themselves. There isn't sizing on the pattern envelope: you have to pull out all the sheets of paper. There is also no recommended button size or fabric type.
I'm not an inexperienced sewer: I often see Vogue advanced patterns and while I've never made a man's suit before, I have made a lot of women's. I found the instructions very unclear and had to do a lot of unpicking once I worked out what was actually supposed to happened. I also watched a lot of YouTube tailoring videos to help me.
I know that that you're meant to make a muslin and adjust but I've never had to do that with patterns. While this is an incredibly stylish suit (of course it is- I made it), it is not a perfect fit based on the measurements on the pattern and comes out a little tight in the chest.
The main challenge that I faced with this suit was all the he pockets. I haven't really done welts or piping before and these are certainly not explained!
Sew three sides of the welt and then turn right side out and press. Place the welt with seam allowance inside where the pocket hole will be, facing away from the hole. Pin with pins right at the edge so that you can see where the welt ends. Put lining over the top so that it covers the whole of the pocket hole. Sew the hole as a trapezium going exactly to the edge of the welts. Cut the pocket hole as a strip with two LONG triangles at the sides. Turn the right way around. T'Dah! (I feel the patten instructions skipped to the 'T'Day')
There are a LOT of pockets on a man's suit! SO also requested inside pockets. I made these using the outside pocket pattern and a welt from the suit fabric.
This was always going to be the worse suit: I have some more expensive wool fabric to make a better fitting one (updates to follow around Christmas time) so changes I will make:
1) Height- the suit pattern says that the SO is taller than the height recommended for the suit. I added an inch to the bottom of the trouser and have had to turn it and more up so I won't be doing that next time. I will, however, add an inch to the top of the trouser around the zip to allow a little more room.
2) The sleeves: these had to be turned up quite a way so I will take off half an inch from the end of the pattern.
3) The chest: go up a size in the chest (to a 46) and then bring it in again at the waist.
4) The sleeves part ii: there was a lot of ease in the sleeve (it was about twice the size of the armhole!) and so I have to gather all the way around to make it sit flat in the armhole. Shiny fabric is very unforgiving and this took several attempts. I won't make the top of the sleeves a 46. Hopefully, this means there will be fewer creases.
5) The sleeves part iii: the sleeves get caught around the elbow if the elbow is bent and have to be pulled down again. Next time I will use smaller seam allowances around the bicep and more slippery lining for the sleeves.
6) The front of the suit needed a little starch to make it sit nicely. I'll use heavier interfacing next time.
I felt like making something fabulous as my big project this summer and working on some structure and what is more fabulous than a big rustley bustle?
This is a McCall's pattern M6670 and features a skirt, jacket, bustle and bloomers, very stylish. The cover of the pattern suggests using stripes and I liked that idea so found some nice light pink ticking fabric, lots of pink lace, bright pink ribbon and some pale pink velvet coloured buttons. With the bustle and bloomers combo it's a cross between Victorian prostitute and Eliza Doolittle at the races.
The fabric was a little light though, so I added white cotton underlining, the same I used as the lining, which took forever to cut out and prepare as each piece had to be cut out at least twice and then attached to its underlining.
The skirt is a long, flowing skirt with gathered fish tail section below the knee. I got confused between American sizes and pattern sizes so bought patterns that were too small: they only went up to a 10 and I needed a 14; so I compared the differences in sizes that were on the pattern and added two. This mostly worked except for the hips, which meant I needed to use 10mm seem allowances on the skirt rather than 15mm.
The skirt is held together with a zip and a hook and eye except I put in a popper because it looks much neater. I added the customary 2" to the skirt (I'm 5ft10 and often need to lengthen things) but I then had to take it up a little at the back to stop it dragging so it's a good, long pattern.
By itself, I feel the skirt can definitely be worn as a smart/casual floaty number
The jacket has a lace collar, lace hem, ruffled and laced sleeves with button decoration and ribbon lacing it up the back.
This pattern is only listed as a costume and so isn't perfect and there are a few changes that should be made to the jacket construction, particularly the lining: the pattern suggests joining the sleeve and the sleeve lining before attaching the sleeves to the jacket; however, you should sew the sleeve to the sleeve jacket, press the seam towards the sleeve and then hand stitch the sleeve lining over the top so there isn't an open seem. The sleeve ruffle should also be lined as you see the back of the fabric.
The back is laced up with a ribbon and needs tabs to be sewn onto the back. The pattern suggests doing this right at the end which means it must be done by hand or the stitching will be seen inside the jacket through the lining; either you need to sew the tabs on with a machine before attaching the jacket to its lining or put the tabs into the seems when sewing the back side to the centre back.
A note on sizing: the jacket is quite short and were I to make it again I would add at least 1" if not 2" to its length. I know it's meant to stop at the waist but it can hover slightly above the skirt. The sleeves are also very long. I added the customary 2" (again I have really long arms- 6ft 2" arm span), which weren't needed at all. After the hip incident with the skirt, I use smaller seam allowances on the jacket but it came out very large: luckily, the ribbon at the back can be used to shape it!
The bustle! The bustle needed a LOT of gathering: the bottom frill is at least 3m long. But it was definitely worth it- it looks fabulous.
Again, because it's a costume, the bustle isn't lined and could do with having the skirt pieces cut out in lining and attached to the main ones. The bustle is held up by tying a ribbon; it might be neater to use the waist band from the skirt or trousers and have a button or a popper.
At the end, I had some cotton fabric left so I thought, why not go the whole hog and make the bloomers as well? They look pretty funky. They have a jean-style zip at the front, which looks so much better than any normal zip I can produce for skirts: flaps do look very neat.
The bloomers are fitted at the top and then had straight legs, gathered 2" above a lacey hem. I put the elastic gathering into white satin ribbon so that it wouldn't be too scratchy if it was tight.
Now I just need to host a Victorian or steam punk party!
You rip what you sew!