Sewing With Gingham {Nerida Hansen Fabric}

I’m just starting off with the disclaimer that Nerida asked if she could send me some of her new gingham in exchange for an honest review of the fabric (you can see the range here). Of course I said yes, even though there’s eleven million other things I should be doing first. But I can’t resist me a bit of Nerida Hansen fabric, it always feels amazing. So here we go….

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Gingham. It’s quite divisive, isn’t it? Love it or hate it? I quite like it, but I sewed with some in my very early dress making days and a pattern company shared my photo and there was a couple of comments roasting me for my lack of pattern matching. And because I was so new to it all, I was like ‘pattern what-ching?’. Of course, now I know better but those little burns have stuck with me. And I just want to say, you don’t have to pattern match if you don’t want to! I will absolutely not judge. It’s hard and one of those sewing things that has eluded me. Hence me being cautious to jump back into the gingham pool.

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Plus there’s been other gingham negativity I’ve read lately like:

– Looks like a picnic blanket.

(DOES IT, CAROL? BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHO LIKES PICNICS? Everyone!)

– Makes plus sized people look bigger than they are.

(YES, BECAUSE MY MAIN GOAL IN LIFE IS TO LOOK SMALLER THAN I AM FOREVER AND ALWAYS FOR THE BURNING EYES OF THE POOR UNSUSPECTING PUBLIC WHO HAPPEN TO GLANCE MY WAY. No).

– You look like you’re getting ready to feed the chooks/milk the cows/collect eggs/run through fields

(IF THAT’S WRONG THEN I DON’T WANT TO BE RIGHT, STEVE. Besides, have you heard of cottagecore?).

(Thanks to my gingham loving mate for that one, yes she’s had that comment before).

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It’s ok my lovely Ru, don’t let the weight of other people’s expectations get you down.

Moving on.

Let’s talk about the fabric itself. You can grab it in three bases: cotton sateen (lightweight, drapey, beautiful), mid weight cotton (um mid weight, more structure, also lovely) and cotton/linen (I didn’t get any of this one but I have used it in the past. Also a lovely mid weight, less drape, more loosely woven). Nerida mentioned that she wanted honest feedback because they’ve had issues in the past with the fabric being printed off grain. I’m not a particularly fussy person with grain lines etc, unless it’s super obvious or I’m cutting something on the bias. So I made sure I was taking note with this fabric and you know, once you fold it in half length ways, it is pretty obvious if it’s off grain because the checks are quite a decent size. So far, all the fabric I’ve used has been good, but I did notice some warping of the print towards the very edge, before they hit the selvedges. I just made sure I didn’t use those edges if I didn’t have to.

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The first dress I made was this little red and pink number from mid weight cotton. It turned out very well and I’m super happy with it. The bodice and sleeves are self drafted, with the top part of the skirt from Simplicity 8248 and a ruffle added. Most pieces are cut pretty straight and that’s why it works. I used the smaller scale checks for the bodice, larger for the skirt and a bit of a mixture of what was left for the ruffle. I like how the red strips between the checks form a bit of a faux waistband on the dress. Pockets are slightly off, but close enough for me. Now because the sides of the skirt are cut at an angle, I didn’t bother trying to match them exactly, but did try and at least get the horizontal lines in line with each other. Does that make sense?

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It didn’t match up super well, but I can live with it, you know? The ruffle pieces matched up well, but they’re very nice even rectangles, so it was easy.

And because it was easy and turned out so well, I got a bit cocky, didn’t I?

Yes I did.

I used the brand new Closet Core Patterns Elodie wrap and the sateen for this one. A match made in heaven, really. The Elodie is a beautiful pattern and the sateen has the loveliest drape for it. But I chose the wrong gingham, friends. I thought I was being edgy, I had a niggly voice in the back of my mind but as always, I ignored that sucker. Mostly ignoring him works, but this time it didn’t.

The Elodie pattern has a lot of curves and following the grain lines on the pattern pieces meant that the checks are cut off an angles instead of in straight lines. I did my best to match the horizontal lines again on the skirt pieces, but I completely forgot about the shoulders. I wanted to match the front and back in the same colour, but didn’t have enough fabric. Also, the waistband sits off the end of the bodice pieces, which I didn’t realise, so my careful matching was a fail there.

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In hindsight, I wish I’d cut the skirt pieces in the opposite direction because I’m not a fan of the red around my hips. Someone mentioned it looks like an apron and it totally does and that’s why I’m not feeling it. Separately, excellent pattern and excellent fabric, together – not so much. I think this particular print would be better in tiers.

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To add insult to injury, I decided to add inseam pockets at the last minute (not part of the pattern) and went fossicking through my scraps for some pieces to use AND ACCIDENTALLY grabbed a back bodice piece and cut a pocket out of it. I nearly cried at that point. Such a stupid mistake. I didn’t have enough fabric to cut another back piece the same, so patched it together. You can barely tell because I did it down one of the vertical lines, but still. I know it’s there.

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So we live and learn (or maybe we don’t, because I’m super tempted to make it again with one of the other more plain ginghams).

Anyway, onto the third and final dress that I made for this little flame haired angel. I used Simplicity 8661, all pretty standard except I added the ruffle because she’s a tall angel. The black and white gingham is mid weight cotton with the large and small checks, just like the red and pink colourway.

I don’t have much to say about this one. I love it, it worked well and I’d make her 10 more in a heartbeat. Now allow me to spam you with photos of her.

Alright, well done for making it all the way down here. I’ll just recap a little with my top tips for sewing with gingham:

  1. Patterns with relatively straight pieces work well. Curvy bits are more challenging to match.
  2. Let go of some of your high expectations, not all the bits will match unless you’re some kind of magical gingham queen.
  3. The checks can warp close to the selvedge so keep that in mind.
  4. I found it easier to cut pattern pieces individually, rather than on the fold – that way you can make sure everything is square.
  5. Once you’ve cut one of your (say) skirt pieces, you can maneuver it around on the fabric to make sure the horizontal rows match up with the second piece. Same with the sleeves and bodice backs.
  6. Buy more than you think you’ll need, to account for pattern matching and also colourway/check size matching.
  7. Have a think about what scale checks you want on what part of your body. Same with the different colourways (no apron hips if that’s not your jam!).
  8. Don’t cut into your bloody pattern pieces for pockets. I know you won’t though.
  9. Wear gingham if you like gingham. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
  10. Breathe. Make a cup of tea. Eat some chocolate. Sewing is supposed to be fun!

Ok, has that helped? I hope it helps!

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Falling Leaves {McCalls 8040}

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A while back I ordered a few of the new McCalls patterns, shipped directly from the company because it takes us approximately three seasons to get them in Australia (not even joking). The shipping is a bit costly, but if you get the patterns when they’re on sale and make the most of the shipping, it’s a bit more worthwhile.

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Out of the patterns I ordered, M8040 topped the list as the one to make first – quick, straight forward and those sleeves. I don’t have a whole lot of woven top patterns, so it’s nice to have something to wear with jeans and work pants.

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I used some Dear Stella quilting cotton I’d had hanging around for a while and made the cropped version. The only change I made was adding a bit of extra volume to the sleeves. if you’re going to have a crack – the cropped version is proper cropped. I’m quite short waisted and it’s pretty short on me, often I still have to shorten cropped bodices, but not this one! And, as always, check the finished measurements. I get the vibe that McCalls are trying to look a bit more like the indie pattern companies with their new line drawings and pattern names (this one is called Emmie), and it seems like the heap of ease they used to have is shrinking. I usually make a 16 in McCalls (even though my measurements put me in an 18 or 20) and I made a straight 18 in this one.

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So what’s the next logical step for a girl who likes a top? She turns it into a dress bodice, of course. With double gauze from Spoonflower. I threw caution into the wind with this one, which I would like to say is due to the state of the world at the moment, but it’s not. I just get a bit like that with sewing.

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I shortened the top another 1.5cm above the ‘crop’ line on the pattern pieces, but once I’d attached the skirt pieces later it was still a bit long in the bodice, so I had to decide whether to unpick and shorten or add elastic to the waist seam.

 

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I decided on the elastic because I figured it would give my wardrobe a bit of variety and the gauze gathers up quite nicely. I thought it might end up pulling at the button at the waist though (and it did), so I added a hook and eye there to secure everything.

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I ended up with 14 buttons in total and I stitched the facing down so it doesn’t curl up and flap around, as it tends to do on lighter weight fabrics.

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I just squeaked it out of three yards of fabric and even then, my sleeves had to be cut shorter and one of them on the bias. Ooops. I wasn’t willing to forgo my giant sleeves though, I love them.

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Call Me Cruella {Simplicity 8292}

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Pattern: Simplicity 8292

Fabric: Cruella-inspired poly crepe (I think) scored from an op shop with a bunch of other stuff a few days ago, reeking of mothballs. Was washed and hung out on the line for 3 days to get rid of the stench.

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Look at me! Sewing from a currently available pattern! I’m jumping on the S8292 bandwagon. The pattern envelope images never would have sold me (do they ever?) but I’ve seen a few dresses pop up online and decided I needed it in my life. It was the sleeves I think, but also that raised waistline offers something a bit different to most other patterns I have. Actually I think this entire silhouette stands out from the current Big 4 pattern crowd.

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I made view B, which has the flutter sleeves and gored short skirt. SHORT skirt. Very short. Would have hit me mid-thigh without adjustments and I’m only 165cms tall. As I was tracing the pattern off I noticed how short the skirt pattern pieces looked, so I did the very sciency thing of holding them up against myself (remembering how high the waist seam sits on this dress) and decided I definitely needed to add length to feel comfortable. Which is weird, because generally Big 4 patterns are created for 6ft tall women. Or so it seems.

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In the end I added 6cms to the skirt pieces but after I’d sewn it up, it still looked too short so I decided to do a rolled hem with my overlocker to keep as much length as I could. I don’t love rolled hems as a rule, I think they look a bit unfinished, but they don’t bug me too much on fabric like this. Plus, they are so much easier than trying to press all those curved edges on something poly that I feared would melt under the iron (turns out it was fine actually). The sleeves are basically circle skirts for your arms so you bet your arse I rolled those hems too. Quick and satisfying. I may be a rolled hem convert.

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I did add side seam pockets to the skirt but it’s not quite full enough to pull them off, so I got rid of them. The skirt sits much better without them, which is a bummer.

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A few sewing bloggers have said this runs small, so I made sure I double checked the finished measurements. Generally the Big 4 patterns put me at a size 20 but I usually make a size 16. This time the 18 is absolutely spot on for me, so I would make sure you check those finished measurements. The only changes I made were to add length and I also ended up bring the side seams in about 1.5cms, but that’s pretty standard for me, my waist runs a bit smaller than the rest of me. I think the princess seams give it a bit of extra room through the bust, so I didn’t do a FBA on this one.

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All in all, a bloody decent pattern! 10/10 will make again. The pattern also includes a pretty basic dress with normal sleeves and a straight skirt. Not my usual silhouette, but if I worked in an office I’d definitely make it. It’s quite a versatile pattern.

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Look at my other Kirbee Lawler purchase, the adorable moon-butted bunny brooch ❤ I love it.

Wiggle It, Just A Little Bit {Patterns For Pirates Wiggle Dress}

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Ah the Wiggle dress. You might not be part of many sewing groups online, but I am. And for a while, you couldn’t innocently scroll through your feed without someone extolling the virtues of the Wiggle Dress pattern. It got recommended any time anyone asked a question.

‘I need a dress pattern for date night!’

‘Wiggle Dress!’

‘I need a dress pattern for a ball!’

‘Wiggle Dress!’

‘I need a relaxed casual dress for a BBQ!’

‘Wiggle Dress!’

‘I need a pattern for my husband’s work shirts!’

‘Wiggle Dress!’

‘I need a cure for bed wetting!’

‘Wiggle Dress!’

You get the idea. It’s basically the sewing pattern equivalent of coconut oil. It got a bit weird and culty.

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For me, it was my introduction to Patterns For Pirates. I saw one of the pattern testers post the dress somewhere (see? online sewing groups aplenty) and impulse bought it. Not really considering the fact that I’ve never worn anything so fitted ever – let alone sewn something like it. But it looked so cool, you know?

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Still, I wasn’t really sure it was for me and in a weird way, the crazed fans sort of put me off it a bit. So it got shoved to the back of the pattern stash for a while.

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Recently I bought 3m of this cotton lycra from Spotlight with the intention of making a Kielo dress, but my toile ended up being a disaster and to be honest, I don’t even want to look at the Kielo again for a while. I was digging through my patterns and wondering what I could do with the fabric when I found the Wiggle dress again. Enough time had passed that I decided to give it a go.

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It has a variety of length, sleeve and neckline options but I kept it simple with below knee length, half sleeves and the boat neck with scooped back. It’s so straight forward that I didn’t bother with the instructions and added a neckband because it’s my favourite way of finishing knit tops. My only pattern adjustment was to shorten the front and back pieces above the waist point, which is a pretty standard adjustment for my short waisted self.

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I like it more than I thought I would, although I do feel quite out of my comfort zone wearing something so fitted all over. Cute fabric though and I’m pretty damn pleased with my stripe matching effort.

 

Merry Christmas {Vintage Simplicity 9008 in Outback Wife fabric}

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If you sew, you probably know about Outback Wife, the range of barkcloth designed by Cathi of Gertrude Made. If you don’t, I’ve blogged about it before here. Want some? I scored mine from Voodoo Rabbit in Brisbane, but be warned, it sells out damn fast.

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This particular range of barkcloth is 100% cotton, made in Japan and feels amazing. How special is this red colourway? It’s the perfect Christmas palette really, without screaming Christmas – because you can bet I’ll be wearing this baby all year round. I’ve loved this one since I first spied it on Instagram months ago. I didn’t have it pegged for a Christmas dress, but I just happened to see that Voodoo Rabbit added it to their shop a few nights ago and petrified that it would sell out, I made sure I bought some. As it turned out, it arrived super quickly and I couldn’t wait to turn it into a dress.

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I decided on the Gunne Sax dress that I’ve made three times recently. I know. But it is quite an easy sew and fits well. There was no way I was risking a new pattern on this fabric. This time though, I swapped the huge paneled skirt for a more simple circle skirt – it uses less fabric and I also didn’t want to cut through the print. I know that’s weird, especially for me and especially with a floral (I’m generally not into them), but look how pretttttttty it is.

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I used a vintage zipper from my stash and popped some pearl buttons on the front. They are dual purpose and help keep the front facing in place. This time it wanted to keep flipping up, which might just be the nature of the fabric. Ooh and I swapped the tie straps for slightly wider regular straps. I interfaced them this time too because the barkcloth seems to stretch out a little bit.

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I’ll be wearing this beauty tomorrow when I hang out with my family on the river, as is our tradition. We’ll arrive at about 7am, have bacon and eggs on one of the BBQs down there, swim, drink cold brew coffee, laugh, eat some more and then head home for a bit of a nap by about 11am. Then in the afternoon we’ll head to my parents place for a late lunch/early dinner that will consist of seafood, ham and salad. I’ve made Malteser cheesecake for dessert. It’s far too hot here to eat a traditional Christmas dinner. How do you do Christmas in your part of the world?

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Thank you for your comments, love and support, beautiful people. Have a wonderful Christmas and a happy and safe New Year. See you again soon.

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